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winter 2.0 (lots of pics)

Recipe: spicy chinese cucumber salad

First: I was asked to link to April Food Day. Even though I believe the day is over (I got a late notice and it was supposed to be April 1) you can still donate for a good cause – to feed the hungry. Hop on over, won’t you?

We got some snow on April Fool’s Day. No joke! At least it wasn’t a joke for us, we were thrilled. More snow more snow! Technically, you CAN ski all year in Colorado – just that things can get a little lean in August and September when you are limited to the glaciers (and the glaciers here aren’t terribly big).

we like accumulation

kaweah looks sugar-dusted

Then it got warm, but just in time as I hosted a stitch-n-bitch for a really fun group of intelligent, friendly, and chill ladies. Kitt was a sweetheart and brought me a *still warm* freshly baked loaf of bread (and it’s delicious – I had some tonight with dinner). Nichole introduced us to an Aussie ginger beer which her husband is fanatical over (and now, so are we!). Foodies rock. The stitch-n-bitch was an excuse to cook authentic Chinese food for some of my favorite people as well as introduce them to one another.


i need a bigger dining table

That’s not always a trivial matter – introducing one group of friends to another group – because they don’t always get along. You know how you keep some worlds separate and it’s just better that way? Well, not so with these chicks, because everyone got on so well and we had a great time Friday watching the snow flurries in between bouts of intense sunshine. Of course, the moment I set plates of food on the table, Kitt and Manisha whipped out their cameras and began taking pictures. That’s what food bloggers DO! The rest of my friends? They weren’t phased at all – because they’re used to me doing it whenever we get together :)

love my fellow food bloggers: kitt and manisha

coffee, tea, and dessert

simple dessert: mac nut blondies and blueberry/raspberry bars

A lot of people know Chinese food as that horrid take-out cuisine with deep-fried hunks of grisly meat smothered in thick, gooey day glo sauces. Ugh. That’s not the Chinese food that my family makes. My family makes the good stuff and I wanted my friends to experience some real Chinese food because I haven’t found any here in Colorado.

the menu
scallion pancakes
pork potstickers
spicy cucumber salad (recipe this post)
hot and sour soup
stir-fried chicken and asparagus
stir-fried chinese rice cakes
steamed rice
macadamia nut and chocolate chip blondies (recipe to come)
blueberry and raspberry lemon bars (recipe to come)

While the food was one of the main attractions, we finally settled into the living room and began our various projects while multiple conversations were conducted at any given time. Oh, and guess who else was visiting? Sonora! She’s twice as big as the last time I saw her, but she’s still so cute and tiny compared to the lumbering Kaweah. They had so much fun together and had several short siestas sprinkled in with the chasing and wrestling and toy disembowelments. Sonora is a really well-behaved puppy. One of the best. They were especially attentive to Kitt who carries dog treats in her pockets!

i love stupid ear on puppies

utter cuteness

beth starts a scarf

as does kitt with her size 17 needles

That was great fun and the personal dynamics were spot on. Not more than a few hours after everyone left, it began to snow. It kept snowing all night and all day today. I know this because…

jeremy catches some pow

it’s like i’m skiing in the clouds

We haven’t had a lot of big dumps here this season, so today’s 10 inches of fresh powder at our local hill was enough for us to drag our sleepy butts out of bed and see what there was to be had. It was one of the best powder days of the season because there was NO WIND (upslope!!!!!).

it’s all mine!

I thought I was ready for spring, but today just made me hungry for more snow. We hit the blacks and double blacks and it was as good as it gets around here. I don’t remember whooping and hollering more on any other day! Most people in our little town were jazzed about the snow. I honestly don’t get people who live in the mountains and don’t like snow. What is up with that? Please move away or shut up already. Okay, a little more ski porn and then the recipe.

i couldn’t see a thing, but the landing was guaranteed to be soft

jeremy playing in the glades (combat skiing)

Okay, finally to that recipe! One of the side dishes I served was a spicy cucumber salad that my mom made when I was growing up. I’m a nut about pickled anythings. I love sour and crunchy. Well, this salad is sour, crunchy, spicy, salty, and sweet. It was a huge hit with the gals and several asked for the recipe. You got it, ladies.

start with cucumbers

peel the skin in stripes

I like to use pickling cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, or English cucumbers since they tend to be less seedy than the standard ones you find in the grocery store. They also have a better and crunchier texture, but that’s just my preference. The regular cukes work just fine as that is what my mom had to work with back in the 70s. You can leave the skins on, peel them in stripes, or remove them altogether. It’s just an issue of aesthetics.

scoop out the guts (seeds)

slice into 1/4 inch pieces

Mom told me to remove the seeds because they hold the bulk of the water. I also remove them because I like the pure crunchiness of the salad rather than getting bites of that fleshy pulp. I imagine it would be fine to leave the seeds in if you like, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it that way.

salt the cucumber slices

mix with seasonings and chili paste

Salting the cucumbers helps to draw out liquid and I left mine salted in the refrigerator for an hour then squeezed the liquid out before mixing with the seasonings. My mom said when adding soy sauce to taste, that it would depend on how much salt you used. I just sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the salad wasn’t overly salty. You can make this without the chili paste, although I think a smidge of it really brings out a nice flavor. I used to enjoy this salad in the hot Virginia summers, but it’s quite good any time of year and pretty simple to prepare.

serve cold

Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad
[print recipe]

2 lbs. cucumbers (my favorite are the Persian cucumbers)
1/2-1 tsp salt
2-3 tbsps rice vinegar, to taste
1/2-1 tbsp sesame oil, to taste
1/2 tbsp sugar, to taste
2-3 tbsps soy sauce, to taste
1/2-1 tbsp chili paste, to taste (optional)

Wash and then peel the cucumber skins in alternating stripes (or peel completely or not at all). Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds and pulp out with a spoon. Slice the cucumbers into 1/4-inch pieces. Sprinkle the cucumber slices with the salt and toss to coat evenly. Cover and place in refrigerator for an hour. After an hour, squeeze the cucumber slices of as much liquid as possible with your hand. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber with the rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Add a little soy sauce and mix the salad. Taste and add more soy sauce until you reach the desired saltiness. Stir in the chili paste and serve cold or you can let it sit for a day in the sauce in the refrigerator – it will taste even better.

56 nibbles at “winter 2.0 (lots of pics)”

  1. Phyllis says:

    I love spicy cucumber salad. I normally get it at the local taiwanese eatery, but not very often as my partner hates cucumber. I will so try this recipe when I get a chance!!

  2. Rosa says:

    Such pretty pictures! Delightful!

    A wonderful salad!



  3. bekah jones says:

    This looks so amazing! I can’t wait to try it out. There is a dish at a Schezuan restaurant here that I love that consists of cucumbers that are cooked ever so slightly. It contains lots of hot pepper flakes and just a tiny bit of sauce. I taste sesame and soy. It looks very much like this dish except that it is warm. Thanks for the great recipe!

  4. Pearl says:

    my mom makes these exact dishes. she would make vegetarian steamed dumplings for me with whole wheat, and whenever we had dough left over, we’d make whole wheat scallion pancakes. they were so delish. i always add more salt than i think is necessary because it never turns out to be salty enough. :)

  5. Kathy says:

    You are da bomb!

  6. Fiona says:

    Excellent. Thank you. I’ve recently been making sunomono all the time, and this will add a spicy, Chinese, crunchier version to our list. Both Ch. and I love cucumber salad.

  7. Macie says:

    What a simple, delicious looking recipe!

  8. susan says:

    my mom makes something similar but instead of the chili paste, she uses jalapenos and the seeds really get it nice & spicy. plus then you get another texture element. but, i bet the chili paste gives it a different spicy-ness. your friiends sound like a great bunch! maybe you could post some of the finished products of the “stitch” session…thanks!

  9. dawn says:

    I would love to see the pics or rather the views from your LR windows. that one shot of you photographing the dessert food I can see the wonderful view (a little) out the windows.
    Love that puppy pic; I agree lopsided ears are the best.

  10. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Love this simple cucumber salad. So refreshing and a great appetizer. Lovely pictures Jen, as always.

  11. bron says:

    What a super delicious spread you had going there! Yesterday I harvested the last of our home grown cucumber, lots of little teeny ones, which I hadn’t a clue what to do with until now, my little dilemma solved!
    Thanks Jen!

  12. mycookinghut says:


  13. Rachel says:

    looks so good!!!

  14. charlane says:

    I love cucumbers and this sounds so refreshing – beautiful photographs

  15. Lily says:

    I’m definitely trying this tonight!
    Thanks for the idea! :D

  16. Whitney says:

    wow, I bet that salad has great crunch. Love the skiing pictures! I really miss the mountains.

  17. Asianmommy says:

    Yum–Love this cucumber salad!

  18. Haley W. says:

    I love this, but I love the entire menu MORE. Scallion pancakes, rice balls, potstickers, AND cucumber salad? That’s just amazing food all around. I love to make these spicy refreshing salads, and I love to make (totally unauthentic) sandwiches with the cucumber salad in pita with some peanut butter. It’s great if any leftovers turn up.

    Can’t wait to try your recipe!

  19. barbara says:

    We call these Lebanese cucumbers. I prefer them to English but they are more expensive. Love the idea of stitch and bitch sessions. I could bring my crocheting.

  20. Bebe says:

    Wow! 10 in. of fresh pow on April 5th?!!!!!!!!
    I wish I were there! I guess out there you’re used to the late season dumps. Here in the northeast, we’re in the midst of Spring bump season, which I LOVE. We’re ankle deep in sugar snow – with plenty of dirt, leaves, and rocks in between. Nothin’ but rock ski’s this time of year, baby! Ten inches of powpow on the mowmow would definitely be heavenly right now…

    BTW – lookin’ forward to trying several of the authentic Chinese dishes, including the blondies!

  21. Danny@foodbloggersunite! says:

    Those photographs are gorgeous! I’m definitely trying the cucumber salad recipe!

    I’d love to include your photos in my list of the best food photos of the week. Just follow the link below and leave a link to this post in the comments section.

    Best Food Photos Of The Week

  22. cindy says:

    i’ve never had this before, but it sounds pretty similar to the cucumber kimchi my mom taught me to make. yummy!

  23. Brooke says:

    I so enjoy and love your blog. Stitch-n-bitch?? What a GREAT idea! I’m in a book club with some of my friends, and we usually do a brunch and then talk about the book, but the idea of eating and then knitting or crocheting with friends sounds very cozy and fun!
    I’m also looking forward to trying your cucumber salad! My husband and I are actually moving to Virginia. He is being stationed at Langley AFB. So I’ll have to track down those ham biscuits you mentioned earlier some posts back :)

  24. Laura says:

    I love all cucumber salads, and especially all Asian ones. I am excited to try this.

    You comment about dogs ears made me smile, albeit a tad sadly. My German Shepherd that I had for 13 yrs, and who passed away this past January, was the last of his litter, unsold, because one of his ears bent back in a curl. It was my favorite thing about him–until I got to know him anyway. I love silly dog ears also.

  25. Tartelette says:

    Oh wow…All that snow…Yum!!
    Kaweah looks delicious all powder dusted. Bailey wacked Tippy in the head 3 times with his tail when I pulled her pic on the big screen :)
    You look like such a skiing rock star in the clouds…
    Lastly: that cuke salad is definitely going on the menu along with your marinated flank steak that I have been craving again this week! Yeah!!

  26. Mrs Ergül says:

    In the Chinese family that I grew up in, we sure had lots of greens. But none was served salad style! This salad looks very easy buy pretty when served! Beautiful!

    Take care Jen!

  27. Wendi says:

    Thanks for the AFD link.

  28. Aran says:

    oh jen, that sounds like a perfect day!

  29. manisha says:

    It was a perfect day! With perfectly delicious food! Thank you so much, Jen!!

    I am going to make these cukes tonight as I couldn’t stop eating them! Not that I could stop eating at all…

  30. margie says:

    So much to love; friends, food, puppy-dogs AND the coffee…I saw the coffee! ;) ( I sure wish I knew how to knit.)

    That is one serious cuke salad. I’m going to bookmark this sweet find. I’m planting cukes in my garden and from past experience know only too well the result of this beloved: What to do with a nuclear sized harvest? The neighbors will only take so many and pickles are good, but fresh is always better!

    P.S. I like ‘that’ dusted cupcake, and I LOVE her friend, too.


  31. Caitlin says:

    All the components of a wonderful day. Lucky you!

  32. cindy says:

    i like all the added “to-tastes” in your recipe. that is exactly what my mother says whenever i ask for any of her taiwanese/chinese recipes. i love cucumber salad. do you ever add a few cloves of raw garlic to this salad? ive never had it without, but i want to try your version… sometimes all that garlic can get a bit overwhelming when it’s been left marinating for over 24 hours! yum!

  33. peabody says:

    Snow is always better than Spring. ;)
    I can do without the spicy part but I do love me some cucmber salad.
    And how cute is that visiting puppy.

  34. Phoo-D says:

    I love pickled salads- this looks terrific! The powder is making me drool too. I wish I could have had one more day on the slopes this year.

  35. maris says:

    I love cucumber – this sounds like a great lunch salad or dinner side dish.

  36. kellypea says:

    LOVE meeting with other food bloggers. Sounds like you had a grand ol’ time. Needed a photo of you shooting the others shooting your food. Just because. Lucky on the snow. Just gorgeous — like your food.

  37. Kay says:

    Hi, what’s the chili paste that you use?

  38. Riz says:

    Just wanted to thank you for this beautifully simple recipe. I didn’t have the right vinegar at hand, and it still came out a treat. Oh, also, a wee amount of olive oil substituted for the sesame oil, which I am still to buy. I reckon this is a perfect summer snack, ideal for picnics and eating al fresco. Finally, the cucumber has meaning just beyond being chopped up and thrown into a salad.

    ps – Kay, I used a quarter teaspoon of shrimp flavoured chilli oil myself.

    : )

  39. Megan says:

    I got a little overly excited when I saw you guys drinking Izzes. I seriously think I could do a commercial or something for them! I love them!

  40. jenyu says:

    Phyllis – great! hope you like it :)

    Rosa – thanks!

    Bekah – sounds very similar to this one. Hope it works out for ya.

    Pearl – nothing better than home cooking!

    Kathy – ;)

    Fiona – awesome! I love cukes too, but sometimes I forget that I have these great cold salads to use them up.

    Macie – thanks.

    Susan – ha ha, if you know knitters you might also know that capturing an actual finished object is not as common as a work in progress (UFO – unfinished object).

    Dawn – Oh lord, I have views from the front of my deck littering this blog – just start poking around old posts – you’ll see.

    Rasa Malaysia – thanks sweetie!

    Bron – oooh, I am so envious of your garden. I wish I could grow something so wonderful (one day, I may – but not this day). Hope you enjoyed it!

    MyCookingHut – thank you :)

    Rachel – thanks!

    Charlane – mmm, I love cucumbers too – they are sooo great in the summer.

    Lily – you’re so welcome!

    Whitney – yup, very crunchy! Hey, the mountains miss you, hon.

    Asianmommy – :)

    Haley – thank you.

    Barbara – yes, they are definitely more pricey, but sooo worth it (delicious!) Yes, I would definitely have you at a snb session :)

    Bebe – oooh, I like to keep my powder skis away from rocks ;)

    Danny – thanks! oops! Sorry I didn’t get to your link sooner. I just can’t keep up with it all, but thank you for inviting!

    Cindy – mmm, I love kimchi!

    Brooke – yes, snb is where its at. I love it! And those ham biscuits are gooooood stuff. Look for the baker’s daughter I think… in Gloucester?

    Laura – Oh, I am sooo sad to hear about your pup. I love the floppy ears and your dog sounded so cute.

    Tartelette – your dogs are so smart compared to mine ;) Even Bailey! Wow, I wouldn’t have thought to pair those two dishes, but that sounds fab!

    Mrs. E – really?! Wow! I hope you’ll try it :)

    Wendi – you’re welcome, dear.

    Aran – ;)

    Manisha – so funny how you and I enjoy each other’s cooking as it’s so different from our own. I have much to learn from you on Indian food, hon!

    Margie – even folks who don’t know how to knit can come to learn or bring a different craft – it’s just an excuse to get together! I’m uber jealous of your planting cukes. I dare not plant anything yet (until I learn how to grow things in our crazy climate)

    Caitlin – thanks, sweetie.

    Cindy – yeah, it’s really about preference, but at least unlike my family, I give “guideline” measurements ;)

    Peabody – yup, that pup is indeed one cutie.

    Phoo-D – we take what we can get, whenever it comes!

    Maris – it’s very satisfying on a hot summer day.

    Kellypea – thanks!

    Kay – it is SAMBAL OELEK ground chili paste.

    Riz – awesome!

    MEgan – ;) I love izzes too, they are sooo good.

  41. Mollie says:

    I’m late. :) But that menu looks just outstanding… the hubs LOVED cuke salad so we will try this for sure this summer!

  42. jenyu says:

    Mollie – I’ll be here this summer, reading about everyone with cukes coming out of their ears :(

  43. Kat says:

    I wanted to use the cucumber I had in my fridge and stumbled across this recipe. My two year old and I just polished off the whole thing (sans chili paste). Thanks!

  44. jenyu says:

    Kat – Great!! Isn’t it pretty easy? I love that salad :)

  45. bebe says:

    I just tried the recipe and it was delish!!! I sprinkled a few sesame seeds to it for garnish at the end and it was awesome!!! You are the bomb!! Thanks again.

  46. jenyu says:

    Bebe – aww, thanks. It’s such a winner of a recipe (and so good when it’s warm out).

  47. Local Box Meal Plan: June 2-6 « Eating Out of the (Local) Box says:

    […] Spicy Asian cucumber salad […]

  48. wonderment » Blog Archive » Linkfest: Salads says:

    […] Spicy chinese cucumber salad recipe | use real butter – A totally different take on cucumber salad, using chunks instead of shavings. […]

  49. cheryl says:

    I went to my garden this morning found a ton of cukes, tried this at lunch thank you this is delish!!!!!!!!!i know my husband will love tonite at dinner

  50. jenyu says:

    Cheryl – oh man, I wish I could help you use up those cukes! :)

  51. Katie/Kasia says:

    I don’t mean to sound like a try-hard, but Its almost midnight, I discovered that I have everything listed in my cupboard and a fresh cucumber and made it strait away (all of about 3 minutes) …… HELLO breakfast ;)

  52. ninard says:

    how much its cause of that dish??? So delicious wow!!!

  53. Amy&Jeff says:

    Drawn to this because of your lovely pics – the recipe provided a wonderful substrate for a new family favorite. Thank you for taking the time to create a loving delivery for a recipe that obviously come from the heart.

    Jeff and Amy

  54. Diane Scherle says:

    Was reading “A Mad Tea Party ” blog as I have been for years and somehow found this very interesting site
    I am a retired oder gal but do enjoy cooing and knitting.
    What a nice idea getting together to talk, knit and of course eat.

    Will keep watch on what is next

  55. Local Box Meal Plan for June 2-6 | Eating Out of the Local Box says:

    […] Spicy Asian cucumber salad […]

  56. eva says:

    I have a lot of “imperfect” cucumbers to use up fast and was recalling some Chinese salad I’d had at some point. Your recipe looks perfect for summer, and it uses ingredients I have on hand, except for the chili paste. I’m going to try a few drops of hot pepper oil instead. Thanks for posting! (Hoping you get some kind of precipitation in CO about NOW!)

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