This is turning out to be a record hot summer, when even mornings and evenings may not bring about a cool breeze. My long morning walks with Ice have been cut really short, and I dread riding the subway in fear of the 5 minutes on the platform. It started out as a great excuse for extra ice cream, but then I turned to lemonade, watermelon, grass jelly, anything for relief.

I called my mom, complaining about the heat, and leave it to mom for some more great ideas. She says, come over, I’ll make you my cucumber salad. We’ll have it with some cold noodles with peanut sauce, and we’ll go buy Do Fu Hwa for you to take home. Then it occurred to me. I never shared my mom’s Taiwanese Cucumber Salad, a summer staple at our house. How could I have let this go un-published for so long?

Taiwanese cucumber salad title

This crunchy and garlicky, marvelous salad is so cool and refreshing. It pairs easily with everything. It’s also inexpensive to make, so perfect for big party batches or bringing to potlucks, picnics, and barbecues. My mom gets a lot of requests for it!

This recipe is interesting because you don’t cut the cucumbers in lovely even pieces. You smash the cucumbers. I asked my mom why and she said because that’s how her mom made it. We’re guessing that the uneven or jagged edges pick up more of the marinade.

Choosing Cucumbers

Back in Taiwan, they used Taiwanese cucumbers. They are available in Chinese markets these days, but when my mom first got to the US, she improvised with kirby cucumbers (but you have to find small and slim ones), and these days, we sometimes use Korean cucumbers or Persian cucumbers (which we did this time). You want to use slim, seedless cucumbers. The English Seedless don’t seem to work well.

Each type of cucumber will be a little different, so use this recipe as a guide and adjust. There’s also different variations. Some will add a splash of soy sauce, and some add a hot oil, or both.

Taiwanese Cucumber Salad 5

Taiwanese Cucumber Salad
~makes about 3 cups

  • 7 Persian cucumbers (about 1 1/4 pound) or similar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt + extra
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Instructions -

1. Cut ends off cucumbers. Smash them with the flat side of a cleaver.

smashing cucumbers

2. Break into pieces by hand, discarding any clumps of seeds.

breaking cucumbers

3. Place cucumber pieces in a large bowl and toss with sugar and salt. Cover and rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

preparing cucumbers

4. Drain cucumbers. Add vinegar and sesame oil, and toss to coat. Taste and add salt if needed. Add garlic and mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until serving. It’s best to serve the same day but will keep for 3 days.

Taiwanese Cucumber Salad 8

posted by jessica at 10:36 AM Filed under Chinese, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.