Asian Cucumber Salad

asian cucumber salad in a large bowl with a spoon
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Celadon-hued, cool and crisp cucumber half-moons soak up a simple, sweet-sour Japanese dressing in this vibrant, refreshing, quick cucumber salad.  

Cucumber: Always a Garnish, Never a Superstar. 

Not that cucumber is upset, or anything. Crisp, crunchy, near-thirst-quenching cucumber is just one of those wallflower vegetables—an afterthought, a sandwich topper, rubbery salad bar filler. Well, no more! Fresh from the garden (or the grocery store!) in the middle of July, a cucumber plucked at peak ripeness is a vegetable that deserves your undivided attention. Our Asian-inspired spicy cucumber salad celebrates this oft-overlooked summer vegetable in all of its delicately sweet, crisp and refreshing glory. 

asian cucumber salad in a large glass bowl

How To Cut Cucumber for Salad 

Crisp, cool cucumber is a solo act here, so select the very best ones you can find—look for taut skin and a really firm feel. And you’ve got cucumbers fresh from your garden, even better! Here’s how to prep them for this easy cucumber salad: 

  • Peel. Just a few swipes and your cucumbers are suddenly so much more presentable. If you have older kids, this is a good job for them! 
  • Scoop! With a small spoon (or you could even us a measuring spoon) scrape out the cucumber seeds. 
  • Chop! Slice the cucumber into perfectly bite-sized half-moons.
ingredients for asian cucumber salad

Asian Cucumber Salad Dressing

No whisks are dirtied in the making of this dressing. We love that this Japanese-inspired cucumber salad“dressing” is mixed by tossing it with the cucumbers, so there are no extra bowls or jars to clean. This pale dressing sings with vivid, straightforward flavors to compliment, rather than overwhelm the freshness of the cucumber. You’ll need: 

  • Rice vinegar. We love this vinegar for cucumber salad—we usually buy this brand—it is a staple in our homes! Mild and delicately sweet, it’s a must-have if you want to make Asian food at home, and it’s inexpensive, too. If you don’t have it in your pantry, it’s time you did! 
  • Sugar. Sounds a bit weird maybe, but the simple sweetness of granulated white sugar is magical with the delicate flavor of cucumber and mellows out the bolder flavors of this otherwise-savory cucumber salad dressing.  
  • Red pepper flakes. Everything’s better with bite, but if you fear heat, it’s OK to skip these.
  • Sesame oil. Toasted (the dark stuff) or untoasted will both work—if you want a bolder, nutty flavor, go for toasted. If you’re looking for a milder oil, untoasted it is! 

How To Make Cucumber Salad

This easy cucumber salad recipe is one of those dishes that we almost feel silly sharing a recipe for—it’s just so simple. However, the secret to making the very best cucumber salad is letting the salad rest for a while before serving. So here’s the best way to make it: 

  • Hunt down a neighbor with an overgrown cucumber patch. Ask nicely to raid it in exchange for a bowl (or two) of this delicious cucumber salad. 
  • Prep the cucumber. Better yet, have your kids do it! All that peeling and scooping is a sure-fire cure for summertime boredom. 
  • Toss it with the cucumber salad dressing and green onions.
  • Chill. Give this salad at least ten minutes on the countertop, or an hour in the fridge, before serving so that the cucumber salad can marinate in all of those lovely Asian flavors.
  • Sprinkle it with the crushed peanuts right before serving so they stay nice and crunchy (they’ll get soft and weird if they sit in the dressing too long).
asian cucumber salad topped with crushed peanuts in a large bowl with a spoon

Tools

Easy Cucumber Salads Play Well With....

Almost anything! A salad that doesn’t wilt is a summer salad to love—and to make over and over again. Crunchy and refreshing, people just don’t seem to get tired of this salad, us included! Serve it with: 

If This Isn’t the Best Cucumber Salad You’ve Ever Made....

...we’ll be really surprised! We’ve fallen hard for this cucumber salad recipe and we hope you do too! Snap a photo of your finished salad and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

asian cucumber salad in a large bowl with a spoon with a side of red pepper flakes in a small bowl

Asian Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 large cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp sesame oil (toasted or untoasted)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crushed peanuts, optional

Method

To make the cucumber salad, simply combine ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes while the flavors mingle before serving.