This 5-minute asian cucumber salad is made with crispy cucumbers, soy sauce, sesame and chili oils, peanuts, and more. Let’s get munchin’!
What is Asian Cucumber Salad?
Asian cucumber salad is a quick 5-minute salad made with sliced mini cucumbers and crunchy roasted peanuts tossed in an asian-flavored dressing. The dressing is a mixture of common oriental ingredients such as soy sauce, Korean chili powder, chili and sesame oils, and rice vinegar. It is sometimes referred to as a “sunomono salad”, which is a Japanese salad dressed in vinegar. However, this Asian salad uses a variety of additional ingredients. The fresh Asian flavor will undoubtedly keep you coming back bite after bite.
This recipe creates a refreshing salad that is a pure joy to eat. Here are a few ways to modify it, if desired.
- Thai-inspired: For a slight thai-twist, add a teaspoon of fish sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, cilantro, and/or lime juice.
- Extra spicy: Add red pepper flakes or sriracha for a spicy kick.
- Protein-filled: Make the salad more filling with the addition of a protein like crab, tuna, cooked shrimp, or salmon.
How to Make This Salad
Choosing the Right Cucumbers
The best cucumbers for this salad are Japanese and mini Persian cucumbers. They are thinner than English cucumbers, tend to have fewer seeds, and a lower liquid content. In a pinch, English cucumbers can be used, but opt for smaller ones if possible.
Making the Salad
This salad is made by simply mixing all the ingredients together. You’ll be able to pull off this crisp salad in 5 minutes or less.
- Slice the cucumbers: Slice the cucumbers into 1/3 inch pieces and set aside.
- Whisk the remaining ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk all the remaining ingredients until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved.
- Toss the cucumbers with dressing: Toss the sliced cucumbers into the dressing and combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Tips from the Kitchen
Follow these simple tips to make your salad have an optimal taste and texture.
- Make the salad fresh: Asian cucumber salad is best enjoyed fresh, while the cucumber is still crispy. For best results, make it no more than 20 minutes before serving.
- Use the right cucumber: For the best taste and crunch, use mini Persian cucumbers. These cucumbers have less liquid and a thinner skin compared to regular cucumbers. English cucumbers work great, too!
- Chill the cucumbers: The salad tastes the best when cold. Chill the cucumbers in the fridge before slicing.
- Slice cucumber evenly: Slice each cucumber into same-size pieces to ensure each piece is equally crunchy. For the crunchiest salad, slice cucumbers to 1/3 inch thickness. A mandoline slicer is an extremely easy way to slice veggies up quickly and evenly!
- Salt the cucumbers (optional): If you have time, salt the sliced cucumbers and place them in a strainer in the sink for about 20 minutes. The salt helps draw out excess moisture from the cucumbers, allowing a more flavorful salad as the dressing does not get watered down. Once ready to use in the salad, pat the cucumbers dry with a paper towel.
- Adjust flavor to taste: Adjust the amount of dry seasonings and liquids to taste. It’s impossible to mess this recipe up!
- Add more crunch: For more crunch, add sliced white or red onions.
- Garnish the salad: Garnish the salad with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and green onions right before serving. Lightly toast the seeds beforehand for a nuttier taste.
What to Serve With Asian Cucumber Salad
Asian cucumber salad is the perfect fresh side dish to your choice of other asian-inspired dishes. We love pairing it with pasta, protein, or other asian appetizers.
- Pasta: Pair the cold salad with a warm carb dish like chicken lo mein, yakisoba noodles, or japchae (korean stir-fried glass noodles).
- Protein: The salad is a great veggie side to teriyaki salmon, grilled beef galbi, and korean beef bulgogi
- Additional appetizers: Have a thematic asian-appetizer spread with cucumber salad, salmon spring rolls, Japanese gyoza, or egg rolls.
Storing the Salad
Asian cucumber salad is best enjoyed fresh, while the cucumber is still crispy. For any leftovers, store the salad covered for up to two days in the refrigerator. Keep in mind the cucumbers will lose crunchiness the longer the salad sits, so eat up!
Hot tip: Store the dressing in a small glass jar up to three days ahead of time to make prep quicker! Shake the dressing up in case of separation, then mix with cucumbers just before serving.
Why is my Asian cucumber salad watery?
The salad can become watery if the cucumbers used have a high water content. To prevent a watery salad, use mini cucumbers. Or, place sliced cucumbers in a colander and salt them. The salt will draw out excess liquid.
What makes Asian cucumber salad “Asian”?
Asian cucumber salad is considered “asian” because it uses a variety of oriental ingredients such as soy sauce, Korean chili powder, sesame oil, and more.
Should I remove the skin from the cucumbers for the salad?
It is not necessary to remove the skin from the cucumbers if using mini varieties. However, if using thicker-skinned cucumbers, it may be beneficial.
More Salads from Around the World
- Asian Sesame Chicken Salad– crunchy veggies, chicken, and peanuts coated in China Coast dressing
- Olivier Potato Salad – Traditional Russian potato salad with veggies, meat, and mayo-based dressing
- Ramen Noodle Salad – An explosion of textures and flavors
- Russian Vinaigrette Salad – Beet salad dressed with sunflower oil
- Italian Pasta Salad – Pasta, veggies, and salami with balsamic vinegar and oil dressing
- Shuba Salad – Creamy layers of root vegetables and pickled herring.