Spicy Cucumber Salad

This salad is a great side dish and easy to put together for potlucks. It is a quick Korean side dish and pairs well with most meals. The soy sauce, sesame seeds, and pepper can be left out for a more mild salad. Also try using another oil-vinegar combination. I first tried this salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper. This variation reminds me of farming days in Monteagle, when a cool, crisp, refreshing dish was welcomed and perky in the sleepy summer heat and humidity. I encourage a variety of spices, alliums, and shredded vegetables to sprinkle in this salad. I find kohlrabi and carrots to be a nice compliment to the cucumbers. Fresh herbs like cilantro and dill would be fitting as well.

Photo by Heather Thacker

Photo by Heather Thacker

  • 2 medium suhyo cucumbers (or any variety) 

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1 inch knob ginger

  • 2 shallots or medium onion

  • 2 T toasted sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 1/2 t tamari 

  • 1/2 t sesame oil

  • 2 t sugar

  • t gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 t salt


Wash and lightly peel cucumbers. If peel is bitter and the fruits are quite large, peel completely and seed the cores to reduce bitterness. Slice thinly and evenly at 1/8 to 1/4 inch with a knife or mandolin. Peel and mince the garlic, onion, and ginger while toasting sesame seeds. Add the rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, sugar, red pepper, and salt to the cucumbers. Toss with seeds and minced spices. Serve immediately, with better flavor after 10 minutes. Leftovers keep for about two weeks in refrigeration.