Asian Cucumber Salad

One of my absolute favorite things at Korean restaurants is the spicy cucumber salad. To me there isn’t anything better than this. I suppose it probably goes back to the fact that we always had a plethora of cucumbers in the garden in the summertime. We’d eat them in sandwiches, sliced with vinegar at dinner, and make pints upon pints of relish and pickles with them. If only I’d known how to do any sort of ethnic cooking back then, oh the salads I would have made. Today I end up buying them in bulk and making salad. This week english burpless were on sale so I splurged and bought 4 in order to make a cucumber salad.

The thing about making this is that you need a goodly amount of cucumbers because the shrink down into a much smaller portion when the recipe is completed. This is because the first step in the process after peeling and slicing the cucumbers thinly, preferably with a mandolin, is to salt them and let them sit for an hour.

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This removes a ton of liquid from them and reduces the overall size. You next rinse the cucumbers to remove the remaining salt. If you don’t do this you’ll be very sorry because you’ll get a very salty salad. Then the cucumbers get combined with a bunch of different ingredients. Each asian culture seems to have its own variation. I’ve had some variation this in Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai restaurants. It is nearly always spicy. I’ve included some links to sample recipes below

My recipe takes what I like best about the various recipes I’ve found over the years and mixes them together.

4 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced

1 tbsp Kosher salt

Green onions, minced

2 tsp Chili Garlic Sauce

3 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

3 tsp Fish sauce

3 tsp Brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp Sesame oil

1 tbsp Toasted Sesame seeds

Place the salt and the cucumbers in a colandar and mix well. Set in sink for 1 hour while liquid drains from cucumbers. Rinse extra salt from cucumbers and drain well. Whisk together Chili Garlic Sauce, Sesame oil, Rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Stir this mix with the cucumbers and minced green onion. Chill for 20 minutes. Add in the sesame seeds just before serving. This will keep them nice and crisp.

I like to serve this salad with an Asian flavored main dish. Tonight I’m serving it with Oven Fried Tontaksu Pork with Ponzu Sauce. To make the Tontaksu Pork, I pound boneless pork loin chop until they are 1/2 to 3/4 inch thin. Then I bread them using flour, egg and panko. I place them on a baking sheet, lined with parchment and spray them with Pam before putting them in a 425 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Cooking them this way typically results in a nice crispy exterior without the extra calories of frying.

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