There are more stories to write about Chiang Mai. The cooking class, the Sunday Walking Street, beef noodle soup that’s ten times better than what we experienced in Taiwan, developing better appreciation for South Asian food (Indian cuisine, after all, is one-third of what northern Thai cuisine is today)… But the recipes inspired by the Chiang Mai trip are piling up. I’m posting a few before moving on to the rest of the travel stories and food tales.
The first time I made Thai cucumber salad was ten years ago. The recipe came out of a cookbook which, I didn’t realize at the time, had nothing but pretend-Thai recipes in it. Thank goodness for travel and an insatiable appetite for learning, the Thai cucumber salad we make at home today is ten times better.
This version, executed by my daughter Alex, contains just a hint of heat. Of course, if you go to Thailand, the heat level of salad dressings is many times higher. The locals are used to that. But we are not so adjustments were in order.
Now, I have no idea what your tolerance level for heat is. Perhaps nearer Thai standards than ours? Okay, the dressing is perfectly tweakable to suit your taste. Just add more chilies for more heat or use less if even the mildest heat in your food makes you cough involuntarily.
Thai Cucumber Salad with Sweet and Tangy Chili Dressing
- 1 medium cucumber peeling is optional
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
- 1 medium onion
- 3 tablespoons homemade sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- roasted peanuts as much as you like
- 2 sprigs cilantro (leaves only) torn by hand
- Split the cucumber into halves vertically, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Thinly slice the cucumber halves.
- Place the sliced cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss well. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. The salt will draw out water from the cucumber to prevent your salad from turning soupy. So, please don't skip this step.
- Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the sweet chili sauce and lime juice.
- Roughly chop the roasted peanuts.
- Take the cucumber out of the fridge and transfer to a colander. With your hands, squeeze out as much of the water as you can without tearing the cucumber slices.
- Transfer the squeezed cucumber to a bowl and toss with the onion slices.
- Drizzle in two to three tablespoons of the dressing and toss lightly but thoroughly. Taste and, if you feel that mixture needs more flavor, add the rest of the dressing.
- Transfer the salad into bowls. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.
- Serve immediately.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.