Neither of my grandmothers were ever fancy cooks. My dad’s parents loved to entertain and my Grandma Pearl could lay out a platter of smoked salmon with the dill laid just so, but her fare was simple Jewish American food. It was probably her fault that every party my parents threw, whether it was a barbeque on our grill or office holiday celebration which called for the giant punch bowl, my dad always arranged some sliced sour garlic pickles.
My favorite dish was her cucumber salad which consisted of sliced cucumbers, white onions, vinegar, salt, sugar, and maybe some water to tone it down. It’s got your sweet, salty, and sour, all in one dish. Inexplicably, Wayne doesn’t care much for cucumber salad, so I generally wait until we have guests to make it. This Thai version has a more complex flavor (and more ingredients) and makes a perfect foil for creamy, sweet peanut noodles.
Thai Style Cucumber Salad
- 5 TBS rice vinegar
- juice of one lime
- 1 TBS sugar or agave nectar
- 2 TBS water
- 1 TBS soy sauce (for a vegan/vegetarian version) or fish sauce
- red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 (or more) cucumbers, peeled and sliced into disks (I like pickling cucumbers but any fresh cuke will do)
- 1 green chili pepper or jalepeño, sliced into disks and seeds removed
- optional garnish: fresh cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts
- Stir together the vinegar, lime, sweetener, water, and soy or fish sauce in a medium bowl with a lid.
- Add cucumber, onion, and hot pepper slices and stir.
- Allow to sit in the fridge, covered, for at least an hour. I like to wait until the oniony bite gets mellowed down by the acid. Taste a cucumber, too, for balance of salty, sweet, and tangy, and adjust seasonings.
- Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts before serving, if none of your guests has a peanut allergy.