Cucumber Salad

I bought small pickling cucumbers when I went to the farmers' market recently, and it wasn't until later that I realized...I actually bought quite a few. At first, I just needed an easy way to use up a large number of them. I came up with this recipe to do exactly that and to go along with my Seared Steaks with Ponzu Sauce.

This cucumber salad is partly inspired by Sunomono Salad, a classic Japanese side dish, and by Pipino Salad, a classic Filipino dish. Both versions are made with cucumber, vinegar, and sugar. The cool cucumber and the sweet and sour flavors of the dressing create a clean, refreshing salad that goes great with grilled meats, fried fish, and even steamed or sauteed shrimp. Perfect for the warm weather days ahead!

One of my favorite childhood, summertime memories will always be of my mom frying something up for lunch...whether it was whole fish, chicken, or (my favorite) whole head-on shrimp...and serving up a big bowl of cucumber salad right next to it. Everything was family-style, meant to be passed around and shared. We'd eat outside on the patio, and because what kind of Filipinos would we be if we didn't every once in awhile, just eat with our hands! This dish reminds me of those laughing-loud-around-the-table, bellies-full, summer meals. 

Now, when it's a hot day, you don't really want to spend a lot of time on a labor-intensive side dish. You want to be able to whip up something right away, so you can eat right away. With that in mind, you'll be happy to hear that there are less than 10 ingredients in this salad: pickling cucumbers, rice vinegar, sesame oil, grated ginger, sugar, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds.

The pickling cucumbers are perfect for this kind of salad because they have fewer, smaller seeds and the centers aren't as soft and watery. They stand up well to the vinegar-based dressing. (Although, an English cucumber would make a fine substitute.) You can leave the skin on or peel it off, but I decided to do a little bit of both for texture and presentation.

Then, simply slice into 1/4 inch-thick rounds.

Combine the cucumber slices and all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Lightly toss to completely coat the cucumbers. Marinate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

This can be served on the same day, or you can store it in jars to be enjoyed throughout the week. The slices keep their crunch well, and their sweet-and-sour punch just gets better and better. The salad also has a fragrant, zesty bite from the freshly cracked pepper and the ginger.

Serve this cucumber salad at your next backyard barbeque, or pack it up and bring to a picnic at the beach or park! Enjoy it all Spring and Summer long :)

Cucumber Salad (makes approximately 4 cups)

Print Recipe

5-6 Pickling Cucumbers
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Grated Ginger
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
  1. Peel (if desired), and thinly slice the pickling cucumbers. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cucumber slices, rice vinegar, sesame oil, grated ginger, sugar, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. Lightly toss to completely coat the cucumbers. Marinate at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Or, refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Serve alongside bbq, teriyaki, or even sushi! Enjoy!