Asian Marinated Cucumber Salad

I have something special for you today.

Yesterday, I gave you my husband’s all-time favourite entrée. Today, I’m giving you his all-time favourite salad. Tomorrow, I’ll give you his all-time favourite appetizer. If I believed in keeping secret recipes*, these three would be at the top of the list because they make you look so talented when you serve them.

*But I don’t believe in secret recipes or lessipe (leaving out an ingredient or process when sharing a recipe). In fact, you might have to pay me NOT to share a recipe with you. The true joy in food -at least for me- comes from sharing it. Refusing to share a recipe or a crucial step in one is tantamount to blowing a big, fat, wet raspberry at someone when they ask you for help. In other words, it ain’t right.

Here’s the thing; the food looks stunning and tastes amazing but takes so little effort you’ll be left feeling a little funny accepting all the inevitable praise that comes from serving it. For instance, we have the salad pictured above.

This is the recipe equivalent of the town where I spent all of my elementary and middle school and some of my high school years; if you blink you’ll miss it. You slice cucumbers and onions, you pour a couple things on top and toss then refrigerate. Then you eat it. And again, like my small town, if you blink it will be gone. For a salad that is so easy and has so few ingredients, the taste will blow you away. It is clean, fresh, bright and accompanies Japanese Salmon over Linguine beautifully, yes, but it is also good with all sorts of seafood, chicken and pork,  or even stashed on sandwiches in place of pickles.

…Or eaten furtively with a fork straight from the refrigerator while holding the door open with your pajama clad knee. Not that I’ve done that. Today.

Here comes the recipe, don’t you blink!

Asian Marinated Cucumber Salad
Prep time
Total time
This delicate, fresh, vibrant, crisp, marinated cucumber salad is the perfect accompaniment to seafood, chicken and pork dishes.
  • 1 large English (seedless) cucumber, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ of a sweet onion, very thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Gently toss together all of the ingredients until everything is evenly coated. Put in a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate for at least an hour prior to serving. This keeps well, refrigerated for up to 5 days. Gently toss again before serving.
  2. Cooking Notes:
  3. I use a mandoline to slice my cucumber and onion paper thin. If this is not available to you, use the sharpest knife you can and slice as thinly as is possible. It will still be great if you can't get paper thin slices, it just won't be quite as delicate.


  1. says

    Oh, boy! I have everything to make this and will get it in my frig tout suite!!

    regarding Mandolines: I have looked at them again and again and see them all prices. Is yours one you love and would recomment? I do have a good set of knives and am usually happy with them, but things like this and matchstick carrots and other precise small stuff – I am more often thinking of one. I buy almost everything from Amazon so if there is a link buried that I did not find, that allows me to buy and you get credit – please send me there!

    Off to slice my cucumber, etc.

  2. Mignon says

    Oh, this sounds so good and so refreshing! I agree with you regarding sharing recipes. I’ve never understood people who wouldn’t.

  3. Jeline says

    I love cucumber and this salad is actually one of the recipes I haven’t tried ever since.. Thanks for the recipe and the instructions here..

  4. says

    This looks like a great summertime recipe– can’t wait for those farmer’s market cucumbers and sweet onions to come around again. Regarding the mandoline– I’m too scared to use one, but I want to make salads that look as great as yours. I’m toying with the idea of buying a SaladMaster Machine from eBay, perhaps I’ll suggest it for Mother’s Day.

  5. Michelle W says

    All I have right now are black sesame seeds. That’s be okay, right? Probably quite pretty actually.

    Can’t wait to try this!

  6. Victoria says

    Rebecca, did you leave out a step or ingredient? I made this just as you stated and it was very liquid and not very flavorful at all. If I make it again I’ll let the cukes drain for a while with a little salt and maybe punch up the flavor with some toasted sesame oil and ginger or something.

    • says

      Victoria- The recipe is written exactly as we prepare/love it. It’s not intended to be a powerpacked salad. It’s mild and delicate. The toasted sesame seeds are there for a background flavour/texture. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree!

    • says

      I have made this twice – once as written with a little toasted sesame oil added and once without the sesame seeds and just the bit of toasted sesame oil. The cukes do soften and a lot of liquid but VERY flavorful. This week my CSA starts distributing. Radishes are on the list and I will add those also. When I say a “little” oil…really just a little…maybe a tsp, but my cuke was rather large.

  7. C4bl3Fl4m3 says

    Mmm… this seems like a combination of the cucumber salad my parents used to make when I was a kid and the cucumber-pickled ginger salad that Teaism has. (Teaism, BTW, is a lovely little local Asian teahouse chain. If you’re ever in Washington DC, check it out… and try the salty oatmeal cookies. Trust me.)

  8. Deborah Chapman says

    This cucumber salad was very nice and refreshing and if had to be because my husband is not one to explore something different and he enjoyed it we ate it all. I made it yesterday and it’s gone today. I will make another batch the rice vinegar and toasted sesame seeds with vadailia onions excellent combination very refreshing can’t wait to try it on friends. We grilled yesterday ribs and chicken I give it 5 stars..

  9. Missy says

    This is great! Even my dog, Stoli, loves it. I made this as part of your scattered sushi bowl to serve at our Memorial Day get together. Weird, I know. But I thought this would be more fun for the kids AND adults than dogs and burgers. Plus, it’s super easy.

  10. Emily G says

    This was exactly the recipe I was looking for! I doubled the recipe. It came out extremely salty…and I love salt. I wonder if I did something wrong. I tried adding some more sugar to cut the salty taste but it didn’t have much effect. Suggestions?

  11. says

    I made this last weekend and it is delicious. Planning to make it again this weekend. I also just made your Garden Couscous Salad and it, too, is wonderful. I’d like to put links to your site (not the recipes) in a blogpost, along with pictures of these two recipes. Please let me know if that would be okay.

  12. Katherine Miles says

    The proportions are off on this… 1/3 cup of vinegar and only 3/4 teaspoon of sugar? Tried it exactly like recipe and VERY SOUR — so I added more sugar.

    • says

      I actually added sugar to the original Japanese version! Rice vinegar is very mild acidity wise, so I guess it just boils down to personal preference! (I’m a dill pickle rather than a sweet pickle gal, too.)

  13. Katherine Miles says

    I like Dill pickles too and am definitely a savory vs. sweet gal and I don’t like sugar, desserts or anything too sweet so I truly think that this recipe is good and I am going to save it but again, that little bit of sugar against the power of vinegar allows the vinegar to dominate which is a shame. Once I added a bit of sugar, this was over the top good (my husband is a chef who interned under Jacques Pepin and my kids eat escargot, pickled herring, fois gras and mangoes so they have pretty sophisticated, I love MEATLOAF! ha ha) .. I only added about another 1/2 teaspoon so the sugar proportion was still very low. Other than that, this will be my master go – to – recipe but I will make the sugar at least two teaspoons… so perhaps you can just put a footnote for the less adventurous cooks who don’t want to vary and let them know that IT’S OK to add a 1/2 to one teaspoon of sugar , to taste. OK I will stop here, but want to thank you.. I even called my mom for her old recipe (she couldn’t find it) and scoured the internet and used your recipes as the master recipe. So thank you! Katherine

  14. shannon says

    OMG! Thank you! 4th of July, I just made this, and it is divine, simple, and, as you said, so delicate. :) Everyone will adore it.

  15. says

    Great recipe. Just what I’ve been looking for. A good recipe since I have tons of Asian cucumbers that I grew from seeds this year that I picked up at the local Asian store.


  1. […] with sambal oelek or another hot sauce, a handful of sliced green onions, and a giant serving of Asian Marinated Cucumber Salad. This is one of our household’s favourite last-minute meals; it’s perfect for busy […]

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