Asian Cucumber Salad

salads-014In the late 90s when my husband and I lived in New York City, we had lots of favorite restaurants in our Upper East Side neighborhood.  For Italian, we had always returned to the site of our first date, which happened to be right around the corner from the apartment we ended up renting.  For great bar food, a fantastic Irish pub was equally as close.  Within a few blocks, there was our brunch-spot, our lunch-spot, and our favorite take-out places for pizza and Chinese.  None of them were anything fancy, but they all served great food at good prices.  Practically every Friday night, we’d go to the same Thai restaurant.  I always ordered the Pad See Yu, a flat, wide rice noodle dish with broccoli and chicken, and my husband always had the Pad Thai.  We also loved the simple cucumber salad they served, which for some reason, always arrived in a soup cup.

 Thankfully, the salad was one I could easily replicate at home.  It is colorful, crunchy, flavorful, and is the perfect cooling compliment to any spicy meal.    I make it anytime I’m serving Asian-inspired food, like some of my favorite stir-fries.  It also makes a great light lunch that travels well to the office, a party, or when warmer weather arrives, a picnic. 

 The secret ingredient in this dish is seasoned rice vinegar.  This seasoned vinegar is mildly sweet while also lending a bit of a tang to your salad. The “seasoning” is simply salt and sugar, but there are also varieties on the market that add other flavors such as garlic or chili peppers.  If you only have plain rice vinegar in your pantry, you can easily make your own seasoned vinegar.  Just whisk together a quarter cup of the vinegar with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon or so of sugar.

  I also use canola oil, rather than my usual olive oil, to make the dressing.  Canola oil has a mild flavor that will not compete with the vinegar and pairs nicely with delicate Asian flavors.  I love the Mediterranean essence of olive oil, but it is not right for this salad…it is just too overpowering.

 Asian Cucumber Salad

Serves 2

1/2 English cucumber*, sliced into half-moon shaped pieces

2 medium carrots, sliced into half-moon shaped pieces

¼ red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons canola oil

salt/pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Place the cucumbers, carrots and onions in a bowl.

 In a smaller bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the vinegar, oil and cilantro.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss with vegetables and serve chilled or at room temperature.

*An English cucumber usually comes wrapped in plastic and is longer and thinner than a regular cucumber.  It has fewer, smaller seeds and a more tender skin, which does not need to be peeled.

 Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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One Response to “Asian Cucumber Salad”

  1. Michael Beyer Says:

    Sounds great! Here is my asian cucumber salad:

    http://michaelbeyer.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/michaels-thai-cucumber-salad/

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