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Sweet & Spicy Cucumber Ginger Salad

Here’s a refreshing sweet and spicy Cucumber Ginger Salad, simple, with extraordinary flavor. You will fall in love with the fresh ginger zing, mellow rice vinegar tang, rice wine and honey sweetness, and the final kick of red pepper flakes.

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Ginger Salad | Letty's Kitchen
For this cucumber salad we get rid of the seeds–peel the cukes, cut them in half, and scrape out the seeds. That way the cucumbers are more like a crisp sweet melon. Folks that don’t care for them will become cucumber converts. 

Before slicing, run the tines of a fork lengthwise down the outside—it’s a quick way to add a bit of decorative flair. My Mom used to do it. She took out the seeds too.

ingredients for Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Ginger Salad | Letty's Kitchen

This sweet and spicy cucumber ginger salad is a classic Japanese salad, Sunomono, which really refers to the oil-free delicate sweet and tangy dressing. It’s perfect paired with sushi, or with rice for lunch, or on top of crisp lettuce.

Cucumber ginger salad is also fun over a tangle of bean thread noodles, the noodles that become transparent when you soak them in hot water. Serve in individual bowls for a unique side dish for teriyaki vegetables. (see notes)

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Ginger Salad | Letty's Kitchen

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Ginger Salad notes:

  • Prep the cucumbers and the dressing ahead of time, and keep them separate. Toss everything together shortly before serving, because the salad gets watery with time.
  • If you are using regular American slicing cucumbers, you always want to remove the skin. First, the thick skin is coated with wax for keeping ability and protection during shipping.
  • Second, unless they’re organic, cucumbers are one of the Dirty Dozen, the list of the highest number of pesticides on commercial produce. Not to bum you out—just peel your cucumbers. Or buy them at the Farmer’s Market.
  • I’m including directions to salt and drain the cucumbers before adding the dressing. It takes more time, and you can skip that step, but I’ve decided it’s worth the hassle. It’s the same technique used to improve the texture and flavor of zucchini.
  • Some sunomono dressings include a drop or two of soy sauce, though I usually don’t.
  • Bean thread noodles are inexpensive and readily available in the Asian aisle in well-stocked grocery stores. Same with black sesame seeds. I found them in the bulk spices at my Kroger store. You can order both products via my Amazon link.
  • This recipe is adapted from one in Tassajara Dinners & Desserts by Dale and Melissa Kent

Every month Becky of Vintage Mixer gathers a group of recipe-writing bloggers, and, to get our creative juices flowing, she sends a list of seasonal produce. I just had to share this salad, so I chose cucumbers.

June Eat Seasonal poster for Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Ginger Salad

Be sure to check out Vintage Mixer’s first post this month, a roundup of seasonal recipe ideas for veggies and fruits. For more ideas follow the blog links below to see what everybody else created for June. I hope we inspire you to get in the kitchen and cook something delicious, and seasonal.

Strawberry, Raspberry and Rhubarb Crisp by Completely Delicious

Hoisin Buffalo Burgers with Spicy Slaw by Cookin’ Canuck

Blueberry-Basil Swirled Ice Cream by Floating Kitchen

Strawberries and Cream Oat Bars by The Vintage Mixer

Cucumber Noodle Tzatziki Salad by Flavor the Moments

Rhubarb Almond Danishes by Food For My Family

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Cucumber Salad with Ginger | Letty's Kitchen
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Cucumber Salad with Ginger
Prep Time
20 mins
 
This refreshing salad has amazing flavor! It’s simple and easy and makes a great side dish for sushi and other Asian foods.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cucumbers , about 3
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mirin (rice wine)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce , optional
  • 1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Peel the cucumbers and trim the ends. Run the tines of a fork in parallel lines down the length of the cucumbers to score what will be decorative lines on the slices. Slice thinly, about 1/8-inch thick. Sprinkle the slices with salt; let drain in a colander over a plate about 20 minutes. Rinse and drain the cucumbers on towels. (see note)
  2. Make a dressing with the vinegar, mirin, ginger, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce, if using. Toss the cucumber with the dressing and the sesame seeds. Refrigerate to marinate about an hour.
Recipe Notes
You can skip the step of salting the cucumbers before adding the dressing. You can prep the cucumbers and the dressing ahead of time, and keep them separate. Toss everything together shortly before serving, because the salad gets watery with time, especially if you don’t salt and drain the cucumbers beforehand.

***This recipe is an update of one I posted in September 2009, and migrated over from my old muffintalk.wordpress.com blog.

13 comments

  • […] the zucchini crosswise, on the diagonal for eye appeal. Sprinkle both sides with salt and let stand for about 10 minutes. Brush with olive oil and season with pepper. On a vegetable […] Reply · 17 August, 2010

  • I’ve never salted and drained my cucumbers before. I guess I need to try that next time! Love this simple salad. Ginger and cucumber go so well together! So refreshing! Reply · 6 June, 2016

    • Liz: I think salting and draining also ups the flavor in ordinary cucumbers. Reply · 6 June, 2016

  • We’re cucumber salad twins today, Letty! I love this version — the flavors sound so bold and refreshing, and I love the idea about using the tines of a fork to decorate the cucumber! Gorgeous salad and I can’t wait to try them with my summer crop. 🙂 Reply · 6 June, 2016

    • Thanks Marcie. I love that you spiralized your cukes for tatziki and likewise can’t wait to try it as summer crop comes along…. Reply · 6 June, 2016

  • Cucumbers are taking off in my garden, thanks to a rainy spring. I can’t wait to try this pretty salad. Reply · 8 June, 2016

    • Aimee, In the mountains here cucumbers have barely begun to bloom–I’m jealous! Enjoy the salad… Reply · 10 June, 2016

  • Interesting “dirty dozen” info. I had to look it up. A lot of people say cucumber skin is bitter, so they always peel. I don’t get the bitter at all. In fact the skin is the best part (pickled cucumber skins were my grandma’s specialty). Since I usually always wash my produce I’ll probably not stop eating the skin, but I’m pleased to have the info. That said. I can see how in this salad peeling would unify the textures and texture is a big part of the appeal with all Japanese “pickled” salads for me. GREG Reply · 8 June, 2016

    • Thanks Greg. Wow–pickled cucumber skins–I bet your grandmother had a finer quality cucumber than we find in the stores today! I appreciate your always thoughtful comments! And check out the Clean 15 that goes with that Dirty Dozen list…. Reply · 10 June, 2016

  • Ken Casey

    my husband is in recovery; therefore no wine (mirin) Any suggestions for a substitute, or just leave it out? Reply · 18 June, 2016

    • Good question Ken,
      You can just leave out the mirin and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar or honey. Reply · 18 June, 2016

  • Heather

    you mention about making it vegan by switching out the honey but I’m not seeing anywhere in the recipe about how much honey to use. Reply · 8 July, 2016

    • Hi Heather, Thanks for noticing. I took out the honey when I updated the recipe–but left the honey mention in the notes. Whoops! got rid of that. The sweetness comes from the mirin only and it is perfect! I hope you enjoy this salad. Reply · 8 July, 2016

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