Vietnamese spicy cucumber salad
This super simple cucumber pickle is perfect as a side for any Asian meal or even topped on burgers and sandwiches. This is my go to pickle when I crave something tart and spicy.
The flavors are bold and beautiful in this dish. Sweet from the palm sugar, sour form the lime, herby, and spicy, these cucumbers have that perfect crunch and pop of flavor. Like the Vietnamese spicy (and addictive) mango salad, these cucumbers are a classic Vietnamese dishes and play true to the essence of the cuisine. I could put them on anything, but I love these as a side with Asian meals so they wake up your palate.
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4 tender Kirby cucumbers, or any other tender variety
1/2 teaspoon white peppers
Salt, to taste
A few drops Vietnamese fish sauce, or Thai if you have it. Omit for vegan version
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste, or 1 inch ginger cut into fine julienne
2-3 tablespoons palm sugar, or raw jaggery
1 spicy Thai, serrano or jalapeño chili, very finely minced
Juice from 2-3 limes
3 tablespoons mint, cut into ribbons
3 tablespoons basil, cut into ribbons
2-3 thinly sliced scallions
Peel the cucumbers and cut into half along their length. If they have large seeds remove them with a spoon. Slice into thin slices, I use a mandolin, but you can use a knife.
Mix the cucumbers with the white pepper, salt, fish sauce (omit for vegan version), ginger, sugar, chilies and lime juice. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing them a couple of times. After an hour, taste the cucumbers, they should be the perfect balance of spicy, sweet and sour. However, I like these cucumbers to pickle in the juices a bit so I leave them overnight.
Before serving, add the mint, basil and scallions. Toss well and serve.