This refreshing Easy Asian Cucumber Salad recipe is perfect for summer! Crisp coins of cucumber with thin slices of pungent red onions and fresh herbs tossed in a silky, tangy umami packed sauce. It’s a healthy and delicious versatile side that is guaranteed to be a hit!
This post was originally published in March 2015. I took new photos, tweaked the recipe and changed some of the written post below to include more information about the recipe.
Hi, friends! Is it just me or does this time in between the winter and spring seasons seriously stink? Why did Punxsutawney Phil have to see his dang shadow? Not only is the weather weird, but I keep going to the grocery store daily to find diddly squat. And, the produce I do happen to find is all sad looking and picked over. It makes my heart hurt. Plus, patience has never been one of my virtues.
However, the other day I did happen to wonder upon some good looking English cucumbers, thank God! Because while I do love a simple leafy green salad with loads of cucumber and tomatoes, this Asian cucumber salad is something I crave all the time! It’s fresh, fabulous and totally simple to prepare! And, I know after one bite it will become a staple in your salad rotation as well!
Asian Cucumber Salad
This simple Asian, or more specifically Japanese cucumber salad is similar to Sunomono, just jazzed up with a No Spoon touch.
Delicate, crisp coins of cucumbers, thin slices of pungent red onions and fragrant fresh herbs are tossed in a silky, tangy, slightly spicy and sweet umami-packed vinegar sauce. Garnished with creamy avocado, nutty sesame seeds and salty peanuts, this salad is terrifically tasty! It’s light and incredibly refreshing, with a depth of cool, crisp and clean flavors.
While this salad is great as a side dish, you can also add in chopped rotisserie chicken, flaked salmon or canned tuna and eat it as a light meal! Or, it’s terrific over sticky white rice or a seaweed salad!
The simplicity of flavors and ease of preparation, is what makes this Japanese cucumber salad recipe not only delicious, but also super appealing!
What is sunomono?
Since I said this Asian cucumber salad is similar to sunomono, I feel like it’s probably appropriate that I fill you in on what exactly a sunomono salad is so you can connect the dots.
Sunomono is simply a Japanese cucumber salad. While there are many different variations, the base of the salad “dressing” is rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger.
The recipe for the cucumber salad listed below includes rice vinegar and ginger, but swaps the soy sauce for aromatic sesame oil, plus there are a few add-ins which make this Japanese salad full of fresh, bold flavor!
What kind of vinegar in an Asian cucumber salad?
Rice wine vinegar, also known as simply rice vinegar, is always used in Asian or Japanese cucumber salads. It is made by fermenting the sugars found in rice into an alcohol (such as wine), and then further fermenting the wine into acid.
Rice vinegar has a slightly sweet, delicate flavor and is less acidic than white distilled vinegar.
What goes with Asian cucumber salad?
You can serve this sunomono-style cucumber salad with pretty much anything your heart desires! It’s the perfect light and refreshing dish to add to any spring or summer meal!
- Meat: seared steaks, roasted pork tenderloin, barbecue ribs
- Chicken: grilled chicken, asian chicken wings or teriyaki chicken
- Fish: cedar plank salmon, seared tuna, grilled shrimp
- Burgers: salmon burgers, classic cheese burgers, chicken burgers
- Sushi: sushi rolls, spicy tuna, sushi bowls
Tips to make the best Asian Cucumber Salad:
- Make sure you use seedless (or semi-seedless) cucumbers in this recipe. I used English cucumbers because that is what was freshest and readily available at my market. However, if you can get your hands on seedless, Japanese cucumbers, that would be my first choice! As well, Persian cucumbers will work here too. If you use English cucumbers like I did here, there is no need to scoop out or remove the seeds.
- Slice the cucumbers as thin as possible! If you have a mandoline, use it. If not, no worries! You can use a sharp chef’s knife to slice the cucumbers as thin as possible.
- Make sure you salt the sliced cucumbers to draw out as much excess liquid as possible!! The sweet, tangy dressing is a major component of this easy Asian cucumber salad. If you don’t take the extra (hands off) time to salt the cucumbers and allow them to drain, you will be watering down the dressing, which is a crying shame!! It’s ridiculously easy to apply a little salt to the cucumbers, toss them and place them in a fine-mesh sieve to drain, so do NOT skip this step!
This Asian cucumber salad recipe is the perfect light and healthy dish for spring and summer! It’s quick and easy to throw together, yet satisfying and jam packed with refreshing flavors! Basically, it’s a side dish I know you won’t be able to resist!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to cool cucumbers!
Looking for more cucumber recipes?
If you love this dish, try one of these delicious cucumber recipes next:
How to make Asian Cucumber Salad at home 👇
Asian Cucumber Salad
- Mixing Bowls (two)
- 2 English Cucumbers – thinly slice into coins or cut crosswise and thinly sliced lengthwise into ribbons
- ½ Red Onion – thinly sliced (about ½ Cup)
- 1 tsp Sea Salt - plus more to taste
- ½ Cup Rice Vinegar
- 1 TBS Sesame Oil
- 2 1/2 TBS Mirin
- 1 clove Garlic - minced
- 1/8 - ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes - to taste
- 1/4 tsp Granulated Sugar
- 2 Scallions - thinly sliced
- 2 TBS Cilantro - roughly chopped
- 1 TBS Sesame Seeds
- 1/3- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Peanuts – coarsely chopped
- 1 Avocado - sliced of diced
- Salt cucumbers: Place sliced cucumbers into a fine-mesh strainer suspended inside a medium sized bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Toss thoroughly to combine. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to overnight to drain the cucumbers of excess moisture.
- Meanwhile, make the vinegar sauce: In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar through the sugar. Whisk well and set aside.
- Dry cucumbers: When cucumbers have been drained of excess moisture, remove from fridge and transfer to a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry.
- Toss cucumber salad: Transfer the cucumbers to a medium sized bowl. Add the red onions, scallions and cilantro. Add half of the sauce and toss well to coat.
- Optional For Best Results - Chill: Place the salad in the refrigerator and allow the flavors to develop, for 30 minutes up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Serve: When ready to serve, taste and add more of the sauce as desired. Garnish with sesame seeds, peanuts and avocado if using. Enjoy!
- Purchasing cucumbers: Make sure you use seedless (or semi-seedless) cucumbers in this recipe. I used English cucumbers because that is what was freshest and readily available at my market. However, if you can get your hands on seedless, Japanese cucumbers, that would be my first choice! As well, Persian cucumbers will work here too. If you use English cucumbers like I did here, there is no need to scoop out or remove the seeds.
- Slicing cucumbers: Slice the cucumbers as thin as possible! If you have a mandoline, I recommend using it. If not, no worries - just slice them by hand and take a little extra care to slice them as thin as you can get them.
- Salt: Make sure you salt the sliced cucumbers to draw out as much excess liquid as possible!! The sweet, tangy dressing is a major component of this easy Asian cucumber salad. If you don't take the extra (hands off) time to salt the cucumbers and allow them to drain, you will be watering down the dressing, which is a crying shame!! It's ridiculously easy to apply a little salt to the cucumbers, toss them and place them in a fine-mesh sieve to drain, so do NOT skip this step!
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