Simple, Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad

sweet and spicy cucumber salad

I bet that for those of you that grow your own veggies, you’re probably inundated by cucumbers right now if you’re growing them. That and zucchinis—well, if you’re growing zuchs, you should expect to be inundated!

Cucumbers are lovely to eat when they’re fresh. Crisp, juicy, and so cool when the summer is so hot. Living here in Malaysia, cucumbers are used raw in so many dishes (mostly as garnishes but also as a nice contrast to spicy and heaty foods).

While visiting a friend’s aunt recently, we were invited to stay for dinner (have I already mentioned how hospitable everyone is here?). She served us this cucumber salad and Nate just loved it. It was really delicious, a nice combination of sweet, tart and spicy. I, of course, asked for a recipe. It was such a simple recipe and I couldn’t wait to try it out myself.

Picking Pickle

The next day, I went off to the market and bought myself two cucumbers, some Thai chili peppers, and a lemon among other vegetables. You know, I didn’t really know how to choose the cucumbers so I let the vendor pick it out for me. He showed me how the two he picked up still had the brown flower hanging off the end to indicate how fresh and young it was. I trusted him and they were very nice.

The reason I say I don’t know how to pick a cucumber is because the variety they have here in Malaysia is very different from that in the US. Over here, the cucumbers are not dark green the way they are in the US (I still remember the first time I picked one at the store in the US and looked for the least green, most fat and smooth one only to cut in open and find that it was very seedy and bitter!). They are light green/yellowish green with speckles of dark green. If anyone has any tips on picking cucumbers, whatever variety they are, please leave a comment!

Anyway, I took these two cucumbers home and halved them lengthwise and then sliced these half moons thinly.

slicing cucumbers thinly

Then I sprinkled sugar and salt on the sliced cucumbers.

sprinkling sugar on cucumbers

Tossed it all together with my hands and then added the sliced Thai bird chilies.

scraping seeds off chiles

Lastly I squeezed the juice of one lemon on the salad.

squeezing lemon juice on cucumbers

At that point, I tossed it with a spoon (never a good idea to use your hands when you’re working with hot peppers—might come back to bite you when you accidently rub your eyes!) and let it sit for an hour in the fridge. At that point, the salad released quite a bit of water. You can choose to drain the water, or just scoop out the cucumber leaving the juices behind. Et voila! A nice, cool salad to enjoy with almost anything Asian with a little spicy zing at the end.

So simple it seems silly to write the recipe down but here it is:

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad

2 medium cucumbers, halved lengthwise then sliced thinly
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tsp salt
Juice from 1 lemon
2-4 Thai bird chilies, sliced and deseeded.

1. Sprinkle sugar, salt and lemon juice over sliced cucumber.
2. Add chilies.
3. Toss with a spoon till sugar and lemon juice has coated cucumber slices.
4. Set aside for one hour or more in the refrigerator.
5. Serve and enjoy!

Simple, Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad

sweet and spicy cucumber salad

Cheers, Annie

This post was entered into the September 2009 edition of the Think Spice blog event, created by Sunita of Sunita’s World and hosted by Kitchen Chronicles.

11 thoughts on “Simple, Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad”

  1. >Very nice. I've frequently made a similar pickle dish, however I replaced half of the cucumber with pineapples and omitted the lemon juice. Also, I dice both the cucumber and the pineapple in about matching size. Hot, sweet, and so delicious!

  2. >I have made something similar on tsunemono with cucumbers, using rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Never added chilies though, usually shrimp. I will have to try the chilies.

  3. >@Helmut – pineapple! What a great idea. We'll have to try that.

    @Anonymous – yeah, we've been alerted to this scraper blog. Reported to Google.

  4. >Cucumbers make such refreshing salads–and the kick of a little pepper is a good idea. Recently I've been enjoying lemon cucumbers–I like the way the look (like lemons) and taste (mild but still cucumbery.)

  5. >That's funny how cucumbers are different around the world. I bet the ones in the US was bred to look that way! This cucumber salad sounds like how I make it, except I never thought to add chilis. I'll try that next time for some kick!

  6. >My gosh, that's it? How simple and wonderful! I'm definitely going to have to try that. Would be a great accompaniment to so many Asian dishes.

  7. >I love cucumber salads, especially combining sweet salty and spicy. I eat cucumber salads at the thai restaurant all the time. They are so refreshing.

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