This quick and easy Korean cucumber salad recipe is a family favorite! Cooling cucumbers paired with spicy Korean chili peppers and nutty sesame seeds. The perfect side dish for rich meats, bbq, or grilled fish.
How delicious is a crisp cooling cucumber salad? The perfect compliment to just about any meal, especially in the summer!
I kicked it up a notch by adding spicy and citrusy Korean red chili peppers, toasty sesame seeds, and sesame oil. Trust me this is a recipe you need to try!
If you are new to Korean flavors but love spicy food this is the perfect intro recipe. I am a huge fan of Korean cuisine, in fact, I have several new recipes coming using some of my favorite Korean pantry staples. Over the next week, I will share several Korean inspired recipes and the few pantry staples that you will need to make amazing Korean food any night of the week.
Let's get cooking! (Well… assembling, no cooking required here!)
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE KOREAN CUCUMBER SALAD:
- Kirby Cucumbers – or Persian cucumbers. You want firm crunchy cucumbers with small seeds
- Toasted Sesame Oil
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Toasted Sesame Seeds
- Coconut Palm Sugar – or brown sugar
- Korean Red Pepper Powder – also called Korean Chili Flakes or Gochugaru flakes – Korean red chili peppers that are dried in the sun and chopped to a size between a flake and a powder. This spice is super fragrant with notes of citrus, and is certainly spicy. If you can't find this ingredient you can use a pinch of crushed red pepper but it will not taste the same, I recommend buying Gochugaru, it is an essential spice in my kitchen!
TOOLS YOU WILL USE:
THE SECRET TO MAKING THE BEST CUCUMBER SALAD:
Salt. More specifically “salting the cucumber” is a specific process that
- Makes the cucumbers taste better
- Gets rid of excess water which dilutes the dressing
Cucumbers are primarily made of water, salting them draws out the excess water before you toss them in dressing.
The salting process takes about 20-30 minutes but it is well worth it!
Here is how to do it:
- Slice cucumbers into thin rounds, you can use a mandoline slicer or a knife, I used a knife.
- Toss the cucumber slices with salt and allow them to sit in a colander for 20-30 minutes.
- After 20-30 minutes add cucumbers to a clean dishcloth and squeeze. In some instances you can give your cucumbers a quick rinse with cold water prior to squeezing, I didn't do so in this recipe and did not find the cucumbers too salty (as a matter of fact I added a pinch more salt to the salad at the end).
NUTRITION NERD CORNER 🤓
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CUCUMBERS
Cucumbers may seem like nothing more than salad fillers but in fact, they are super nutritious!
Also… pickles are made from cucumbers which makes cucumbers officially my favorite vegetable (don't tell kale).
Here are some cucumber health highlights:
- Hydrating – cucumbers contain mostly water and can actually count toward your daily water consumption goals. They are also high in the electrolyte potassium which contributes to their hydrating quality.
- Cucumbers are low in calories but a good source of fiber
- Rich in vitamin K (essential for bone health!)
DIETARY MODIFICATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE:
This recipe is naturally Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free
- Paleo/Whole30 – the only thing that makes this recipe not “paleo” or “Whole30” friendly is the addition of sugar. Sugar is a key component in balancing out the spice in Korean cuisine. You can certainly try the recipe by blending dates, which I'm sure is delicious!
- Keto – The same rule applies, this recipe is keto-friendly except for the small amount of sugar. You can replace with a non-nutritive sweetener like stevia (I wouldn't) or leave the sugar out altogether.
MORE HEALTHY VEGGIE SIDE DISHES YOU WILL LOVE:
I hope you love this SPICY KOREAN CUCUMBER SALAD RECIPE! If you make it be sure to tag me @abrapappa on Instagram so I can share your photo!
Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad
- Slice cucumbers into thin rounds.
- (This step is optional, but I recommend it)Toss sliced cucumbers with 1 tbsp sea salt and allow to sit in a colander for 20 minutes. The salt will pull moisture from the cucumbers, so they remain crunchy and the salad isn't watered down. After the cucumbers have rested with the salt, you will see beeds of sweat forming on the cucumbers. You will need to wring out the cucumbers, you can easily do this by adding the cucumbers to a clean kitchen towel, or cheesecloth and gently squeezing the liquid out. They will smush a little, that is ok. Add drained cucumbers to a large bowl. NOTE: Typically when you squeeze the liquid out the cucumbers will not taste too salty.
- While cucumbers are salting make the sauce by combining crushed garlic, sesame oil, sugar, rice vinegar, red pepper powder, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine.
- Toss cucumbers with sauce and sprinkle extra sesame seeds on top. Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
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