Thai Cucumber Salad is sweet and spicy while being cool and refreshing. Just a handful of ingredients and in a few minutes you have the perfect summer side dish!
With some recipes, I’m always left wondering what to make along with it. Like recently when I made satay, I was like “now what should I make as a side to that?”
After a quick Google search I was lead to a recipe for Thai Cucumber Salad. The only bummer was it called for Thai red chiles. Because in all my visits to several different grocery stores, I’ve never once saw Thai chiles in the produce section. Maybe it’s my area or a Michigan thing, but it bums me out that I can’t find it for recipes. However – good news! – I found a cheat. Mixing in a little sambal oelek and just like that, you get the delicious heat and the red specks.
But let’s back up a bit so I can explain this recipe. What you have here is somewhat of a quick pickle situation. Sliced cucumbers and red onion are tossed in a sweet vinegar syrup, the sambal oelek and garnished with three kinds of fresh herbs and chopped roasted peanuts.
Essentially, you could make a meal out of this Thai cucumber salad, it’s that good. And the whole chilled salad with herb-y, sweet and spicy heat has me obsessed.
To make this Thai Cucumber Salad Recipe you will need:
- unseasoned rice vinegar
- kosher salt
- english cucumber
- red onion
- sambal oelek
- fresh basil (Thai basil if you can find it), cilantro and mint
What is Rice Vinegar?
Rice vinegar is a mild yet slightly sweet vinegar made from fermented rice.
In a small saucepan measure and add the 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar.
Bring it to a boil and then reduce to medium and simmer until syrupy. About 5 minutes.
Then pour the vinegar syrup into a mixing bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients by slicing the cucumbers and onions, and chopping the herbs and peanuts.
Once the vinegar syrup has cooled, add in all of the cucumbers, onions and then the sambal oelek.
Grab a pair of tongs to toss this gorgeous combination together.
Now simply let the cucumber soak up the syrup for about 5 minutes before tossing one more time and then transferring to a serving dish.
Lastly, right before serving, sprinkle with the chopped herbs and roasted peanuts over top of the salad. Those herbs will add a herbaceous punch while the peanuts lend their crunchy texture.
Finally, it’s time to dig in! The first time I made this, I had zero clue what it would taste like. So I snagged a cuke slice and red onion and popped it into my mouth – because that’s what I do.
Sweet and spicy but then the herbs came in and woke my tastebuds up and the spice just rounds this salad out so nicely. It literally has the perfect balance of sweet, spicy and delicious. Try serving this salad with grilled chicken satay or next to burgers or as a side salad to seafood.
Super crisp served right away and still delicious the next day albeit a little softer. Either way, I have a feeling you’re going to love how incredibly easy and tasty this Thai cucumber salad recipe is!
Thai Cucumber Salad Recipe
- 1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar, see notes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 English cucumber, sliced
- 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic paste, like sambal oelek
- 1 teaspoon basil, chopped fresh
- 1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped fresh
- 1 teaspoon mint, chopped fresh
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, lightly salted or unsalted and chopped
- In a small saucepan, measure and add the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer until syrupy. About 5 minutes.
- Pour the vinegar syrup into a mixing bowl to cool.
- Once cooled, add the cucumber, red onion slices and sambal oelek. Use tongs to toss to combine. Let the cucumber soak up the syrup for about 5 minutes. Then toss one more time before transfering to a serving dish.
- Top with the chopped herbs and peanuts.
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