Make Ahead

Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid's Spicy Cucumber Salad

July 24, 2012
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 as a salad or as one of many dishes in a rice meal
Author Notes

Here's a salad that you can eat right away -- with some grilled fish or lamb with cumin, perhaps -- or it can sit around in the fridge for a few days as a mellow pickle to snack on. Adapted very slightly from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books, 2000). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 1 large or 2 medium European cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 5 Thai dried chiles, or 3 for milder heat
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced
  • 7 Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup packed torn cilantro leaves
  1. Peel the cucumber, leaving some thin strips of peel on if you wish, for a decorative effect. Cut lengthwise into quarters and discard the seeds.
  2. Use the flat side of a cleaver or large knife to bash the cucumber pieces several times. Cut the pieces lengthwise into thinner strips, then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths. Place in a medium bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and sugar. Pour over the cucumber, mix well, and set aside.
  4. Place a wok or skillet over high heat. When it is hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the dried chiles, jalapeño, and peppercorns and stir-fry for 20-30 seconds. Pour this over the cucumbers. Sprinkle on the salt and mix well.
  5. Mound the salad in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle on the cilantro leaves and serve immediately. Note: The traditional way to make this uses 3 tablespoons of oil, giving a well-oiled texture that may be undesirable. If you wish, try both and see which you prefer.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Patti Phillipi
    Patti Phillipi
  • Lizzie Deroy
    Lizzie Deroy
  • ECMotherwell
  • Swami49
  • MaureenOnTheCape
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

11 Reviews

Marsha May 28, 2020
I just made these cucs and they are wonderful!
I actually made dual duty out of the spicy oil. Spicing the oil to follow the A Genius Way to Upgrade Your Fried Eggs - with hot peppers, Sichuan peppercorn, chili flakes & paprika. After spicing the oil, I made the eggs, which were amazing. Then I poured the extra oil over the seasoned cucumbers. Dual duty and both are fabulous!!
Patti P. May 15, 2019
I make something very similar from a Thai cookbook—recipe calls for apple cider vinegar and sugar, boiled together and slightly reduced to make syrupy. Calls for sliced shallots, which makes a nice visual presentation. When I initially made it I didn’t have the dried peppers called for so substituted with Sambel Olek to taste. No oil in recipe. It has become a favorite with and Chinese or Thai dishes I serve. Will try this—especially the smashing technique to help the cubes pick up the flavor!
ErinM724 July 1, 2017
It was good! I also used a whole jalepeno, the szchuan peppercorns and some medium hot chili flakes in 1TB oil. It probably could have been spicier, I think but I'll play around with it. I would definitely make it again, it was easy!
Lizzie D. August 16, 2015
Amazing dish, even though I was lazy and substituted some Chinese chili-garlic sauce and black pepper in place of the fancy peppers listed. This will be my summer go-to cucumber salad from now on. Thank you for posting the recipe
ECMotherwell October 19, 2014
I've made this twice to some rapturous responses. A great dish! (Btw, not having dried chiles on hand, I did a whole minced jalepeno and some crushed red pepper flakes. Also, I didn't have Sichaun peppercorns, so subbed a healthy dose of regular whole peppercorns. Will try as written next time I have dried Thai chiles!)
Swami49 July 14, 2014
While I liked the flavor of the dish, the two TBS of oil made it greasy. When I cut back to 1 TBS, big improvement.
Nyborg March 18, 2014
Tatanka August 8, 2012
Loved this recipe! Since I didn't have Thai chiles I substituted them for Mexican chile de árbol. I then had to break one of the dried chiles to get the seeds out to get some chile flavor in the cukes. I also used black pepper corns which worked out well.
Robin F. August 5, 2012
The recipe mentions smashing the cucumber slces with the flat side of a knife, yet the ones in the picture don't look smashed and also seem to have all the peel on . Also, how long before serving can you make this salad?
AmandaO August 11, 2012
When I made it I didn't really smash the cukes, just kind of leaned on them to bruise them a little. I made it again without doing that and it definitely made a difference in picking up the flavors.
MaureenOnTheCape July 25, 2012
This is so delicious it doesn't stand a chance to sit and mellow in the fridge for a few days.

I'm not a big fan of "hot" so I chose the 3 chili option but now wish I had used all 5 as I found no heat at all with 3.

What a novel way to use all the cukes coming to market now. Thank you Jeffrey, Naomi and Food52!