This fun and refreshing Asian cucumber salad is the perfect side dish. It’s fresh, tangy, and healthy, and it's super easy to make. Plus, it’s gluten-free!
This Asian cucumber salad has been a viral recipe on the internet lately. So naturally I decided it was time to come up with my own recipe to try it out. And it is every bit as good as advertised! It’s quickly become one of my favorite side dishes, as it goes well with almost any Asian meal.
The salad is so refreshing, with fresh cucumber, scallions, cilantro, and ginger. Chili garlic sauce adds a little kick of spice, while mirin, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil bring the dish together with acidity, umami, and salt. It’s such a well-balanced salad, and the flavors absolutely explode in your mouth. Plus, it’s healthy, gluten-free, and barely takes any effort to make. You’ve got to give it a try.
What You’ll Need
Here are all the ingredients that you need to make this tangy and fresh Asian cucumber salad. Make sure to check out the recipe card at the bottom of the article to see the exact amounts of each ingredient.
- Small cucumbers – You want to use thin-skinned cucumbers for this recipe.
- Kosher salt
- Gluten-free soy sauce – Tamari is fine to use in place of soy sauce.
- Sesame oil – Be sure to use toasted sesame oil.
- Fish sauce – If you want to make this recipe vegan, use vegan fish sauce.
- Fresh ginger
- Chili garlic sauce
- Sesame seeds
- Scallions – You’ll use both the green and white parts of the scallions.
What is Mirin?
Mirin is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It’s a rice wine that is fairly similar to sake, though it has a lower alcohol content, and a higher sugar content. It has a flavor similar to rice wine vinegar, though it’s much sweeter and less sour.
How to Make Asian Cucumber Salad
Here’s how to make this Asian side dish. It’s incredibly easy!
- Salt the cucumbers. Place the sliced cucumbers in a colander, and sprinkle salt on top of them. Let them sit for 15 minutes.
- Rinse the cucumbers. Using cold water, wash the salt off of the cucumbers. Then thoroughly dry them with a dish towel or paper towel.
- Make the sauce. Add the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger, chili garlic sauce, and sesame seeds to a large bowl, and whisk to combine.
- Make the salad. Add the cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro to the bowl with the sauce. Toss until the salad is thoroughly dressed.
- Chill. Place the salad in the fridge for at least an hour.
Tips for Success
Here are some tricks for making the best Asian cucumber salad.
- Make even cuts. The cucumbers are the star of this dish, so it’s really important to cut the slices consistently. You want all of the pieces of cucumber to be roughly the same size, which will help the consistency and flavor of the dish. Take your time cutting the cucumbers so that the slices are even, or use a mandolin.
- Go heavy on the salt. The reason for salting the cucumbers at the start of the recipe is that it pulls the liquid out of the vegetable. Removing the natural liquid from the cucumbers accomplishes two things. First, it makes it so that the veggies can absorb more of the tasty sauce, so the salad will be more flavorful. And second, it makes the cucumbers crisper, so the texture of the salad will be much better. For best results, use lots of salt. Don't worry about the dish being too salty, as you're going to wash it all off.
- Chill longer. This recipe calls for you to chill the salad for at least an hour before serving it. But the longer you chill it, the more flavorful it will become. If you have the time, chill the salad for a few hours, or even overnight. It will just get better and better.
This cucumber salad really goes well with almost any Asian entree. Here are a few of my favorite dishes to serve it next to.
- Sesame crusted salmon and quinoa with asian vegetables
- Gluten-free Asian turkey meatballs with zucchini linguine
- 10-minute quinoa fried rice with vegetables
- Vegetarian quinoa bibimbap
- Vegan rice paper dumplings
How to Store Asian Cucumber Salad
You can store this recipe in the fridge for up to 4 days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container. The cucumbers will get a little flimsy after a few days, but you can add extra crunch by adding more sesame seeds when you serve it.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
I don’t recommend freezing this recipe, as the texture of the cucumbers will get a little funny after freezing and thawing. If you want to try though, it will last for up to 4 months if stored in an airtight container.
More Salads to Make
Here are a few other salads that I love to make.
- Vegetarian taco Mason jar salad
- Herbed spring quinoa salad
- Watermelon mint quinoa salad
- Roasted brussels sprout quinoa salad
- Quinoa “tabbouleh” salad
Asian Cucumber Salad
- 6 small thin-skinned cucumbers , sliced into ¼-inch rounds
- Kosher salt , for sprinkling
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce/tamari
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce or vegan fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (plus more to taste)
- 1 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 bunch scallions , white and light green parts, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- Place the cucumbers in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse and dry cucumbers with a dishcloth.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger, chili garlic sauce, and sesame seeds.
- Add the cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Chill for at least an hour or up to 2 days.