6.12.2012

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad

My mother, for many years, took in ESL students from all over the world.  They would come to the US from the respective countries and stay about 6 months or so, attending an English Second Language school in my home town.  They would be housed with English-speaking families, so that they could be immersed in the language with the ultimate goal of passing their TOEFL exam.  They would either then return to their home country or go on to school in the US.   While the students were in our home (most of the students, by the way, were male), my mother would require them to cook at least one meal for the family and a dish that was native to their home.  She usually asked for them to make the favorite meal that their mother’s would cook for them.  One year, we had a student from Thailand.  He was quite the character and worked for a local Thai restaurant.  We became fast friends.  He was a great cook and many evening would bring home food from the restaurant.  We would sit up for several hours talking and I would get to eat this food from a country that I had never been too, let alone dared to try the cuisine.  This friendship and experience resulted in a passion for Thai (and subsequently Indian) food and flavors.  One of my most favorite salads turned out to be one of the simplest recipes I have ever made.  So here is my version of a tangy Thai – inspired cucumber salad recipe.   Its perfect for hot summer days!!
Sweet and Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad
2 japanese-style cucumbers, peeled and chopped.
½ c rice wine vinegar
½ c red wine vinegar
6 T sugar
½-1/2 t red pepper flakes
½ medium red onion, chopped. 
Chop cucumber and place into a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add chopped red onion and a dash or two of salt.  Mix.  Place into the fridge to keep cold. 
Whisk together the vinegars and sugar.   A few T of canola oil can be added to slightly emulcify, but I don’t do this, as I prefer a “cleaner” dressing.   Add the red pepper flakes and whisk thoroughly.  

Pour the dressing over the cucumber-onion mixture.  Mix completely.  Place back into the fridge for about 30 minutes until well chilled. 
TIP:  Some individuals are known to add ½ c water to the vinegar and sugar mix, then cook on the stove until reduced to about 1/3 cup, then cool completely.  I have tried this and while it intensifies the flavors, it does add “time” to the process.  I have found that making the dressing without cooking results in a brighter flavor, but this is all personal preference – so play with it yourself and see what you can come up with!

Enjoy!


Sweet and Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad - PRINTABLE RECIPE