This spicy cucumber salad is a common side dish when eating Chinese Szechuan cuisine. Traditionally cucumbers are thought to be a “cooling food” by those who believe in Chinese medicine or food theory. These cold or cooling foods are said to clear heat and toxins from the body and provide yin. In contrast, the chili and spice in this dish serve as a “warming food” providing yang and heating the body and organs while improving blood circulation. While cold foods may be less intuitive to some, bite into a spicy, hot chili pepper and there is certainly no denying the beads of sweat on your face–chilies are a warming food.
When you take your first bite of your spicy cucumber salad, you will immediately taste the refreshing, cool crunch of cucumber followed by the subtle heat of chili. Cold cucumbers + hot chili = a happy yin and yang in your body.
Even if you are not a believer of the existence of yin and yang or hot and cold foods, you will love this spicy cucumber salad. It is crisp, delicious, healthy, and extremely quick to toss together. Since it is meant to be eaten cold, you can make the salad ahead of time and store it in the fridge before it is time to serve, but be careful not to leave the cucumbers sitting in the sauce for more than 20-30 minutes. You do not want the cucumbers to absorb too much sauce and become soggy.
If you are looking for a perfect appetizer to serve alongside your favorite spicy Chinese or Asian inspired meals, this is it. It is also a wonderful dish for when you are trying to sneak in a few extra vegetables into your day or to give yourself a light and healthy afternoon snack.
I recently prepared this salad as a starter to a delicious Spicy Szechuan Chicken Noodle Soup which I will be sharing with y’all on Thursday so watch this space!
- 1-2 large cucumbers, cut into sticks, cores removed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp chili oil
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes
- salt, additional chili flakes, to taste
- Dry excess water from cucumber using a towel
- In a large bowl, toss cucumber sticks with salt
- Allow to sit for 15 minutes
- In a small bowl mix rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil, and chili flakes
- Pour over cucumbers and toss to coat evenly
- Add additional salt or chili flakes to taste
- Serve cold