Ingredients: cucumber, onion, rice wine vinegar, palm sugar, sesame oil, black sesame seed, chili flake, salt.
This was the first time I’ve made a vinegar-based cucumber salad. It worked out so well for me that I can’t imagine not making another variation sometime soon. The process was fast, easy, and lots of fun (I keep my santoku knife super-sharp). The end product was absolutely lip-smackingly delicious, and way healthier than most of the stuff I’ve been eating recently.
For this salad, I started by making a simple vinaigrette. I used rice wine vinegar, which is so mild (and tasty) that you can practically drink it straight. I sweetened this with palm sugar (which has hints of smoky caramel), salted to taste, and whisked in just a bit of toasted sesame oil. That stuff is heavenly, but less is more. I decided then to add a pinch of hot pepper flakes, as a complimentary accent to the vinegary tang.
Next, I thinly sliced half a fresh white onion and got it soaking in the dressing. I followed that with an even-more-thinly sliced cucumber. I was worried at first that the raw onion would be unpleasant or overwhelming, but the acid in the vinaigrette broke it down sufficiently. I finished off the salad with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, then let it sit in the fridge for about half an hour.
Timing is fairly important here. A little wait is required in order for the flavors to marry each other and penetrate the cucumber. However, I noticed that when I came back for seconds a few hours later, the cucumber’s water had escaped and flooded into the vinaigrette, significantly diluting its intensity. If I were to make this farther ahead of time, I’d want to pre-soak and pat-dry the cucumber slices before dressing them.