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Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

I have been making Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts for years, well over a decade, in fact. This is one my go-to recipes that is in heavy rotation especially during the summer months when I crave cool, crisp, and refreshing meals. I prefer to use English (or hot house) cucumbers for this recipe because of their thin skin and few seeds but if you grow your own cukes, by all means, use them.

The funny thing about cucumbers is that I didn’t like cucumbers (at all) until I was an adult. I adored pickles as a kid but wouldn’t touch cucumbers with a ten-foot pole. That’s weird, right?

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts is super easy to make. You combine a few ingredients like rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. The dressing is terrific blend of sweet, spicy, and acid.

While the dressing cools, slice the cucumbers very thin.  Using a mandoline makes this job a snap and results in perfectly uniform slices. The video below shows how to use a mandoline and features the exact same OXO brand mandoline that I use. I love it because I can set the width of the slices and it makes slicing so easy, just be very careful because the blade is sharp. Always use the included safety guard when using the mandoline.

After slicing the cucumbers, I recommend putting the slices into a colander and sprinkling them liberally with salt. The salt will draw the moisture out of the cucumber which results in crisp slices in your salad. Be sure to rinse the salt off the slices and then use a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and pat the slices to remove excess moisture before adding the dressing.

Just before serving Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, sprinkle the salad or individual servings with chopped up dry-roasted peanuts. The peanuts add that salty crunch which is the perfect foil for the cool, crisp cucumbers.

Sometimes I will make a pot of rice and serve the Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts in a bowl with a scoop of rice. I love to make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts to accompany Hawaiian Poke. Check out my recipes for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke or Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado. Grilled meat or fish would also make a great accompaniment to this salad.

How to Make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Salmon and Mangos and Avos….oh my!

I could eat Hawaiian poke (pronounced poe-kay) every day, it is so light and fresh, perfect in the summer. Poke is a raw fish salad seasoned with flavors common in Japanese cooking. Ginger salmon poke is flavored with a dressing of fresh ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Once the cubes of salmon are coated with the dressing, onions, sesame seeds, mango and avocado are added to poke.

There are a few things to consider before attempting to make poke at home. First, buy your fish from a reputable fish monger or a grocery store which carries high-quality fresh fish. I recommend mentioning that you plan to make poke with the fish when you are buying. Also, you will want to use a very sharp knife to cut the fish into cubes. A knife that isn’t super sharp will tear the fish so be sure to sharpen your knives before cutting up the fish.

Do you have a good knife? The single most important kitchen tool for me a sharp chef’s knife. This is the knife that I use to cut almost everything while preparing recipes. I have a serrated bread knife for slicing bread and a paring knife that I occasionally use to slice up a peach or remove the segments of oranges.

Having a solid chef’s knife is the first step, keeping the knife sharp is the second step. You should invest in a steel to sharpen your knife. The video below will show you exactly how to use the steel to keep your knife in perfect cutting condition.

With this in mind, you will become a poke-making master in no time. I love to serve poke in a bowl with steamed rice (brown or white). Then, I like to add some fresh vegetables like shredded cabbage or a lightly dressed cucumber salad to round out the bowl.

If poke is your thing too, you may want to check out my post on Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke too.

How to Make Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Raise your hand if you currently have more cucumbers in your fridge than fingers on one hand. Am I the only one raising my hand here? I doubt it. I don’t know what happened but a whole bunch of them come on at once. So, now I am busting out all the cucumber recipes that I love and eating cucumbers all the time. You have probably had a version of this cucumber sunomono salad one time or another at a Japanese or sushi restaurant.

Sunomono salad is a perfect side dish to accompany meals. It is light, crispy, and refreshing. The vinegar dressing is a perfect foil for any richness you may serve alongside it. For example, sunomono salad is perfect with spring rolls and a peanut dipping sauce. Or, I adore sunomono salad with Hawaiian Poke salad. You can find my recipe for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke here. One of my friends makes sunomono salad as a side dish alongside a marinated grilled flank steak or ribs. I think it would be terrific paired with grilled salmon too.

Sunomono salad can be dressed up or down. Vegetarians can skip the imitation crab altogether and consider adding chopped peanuts instead. You can kick the sunomono salad up a notch by adding shrimp to the salad. If you add shrimp, don’t use the little salad shrimp. Buy something bigger and then slice them in halfThe possibilities are endless!

I often make up a batch of sunomono salad on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch during the week. The cucumbers will soften as they sit but if you are using fresh cucumbers, the salad will remain crisp and flavorful. The salad also comes together so quickly that you can make it as a side dish on a weeknight and pair it with something that you’ve grilled.

How to Make Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Poke is a raw fish salad. In Hawaiian, poke means ‘to cut or slice’. The fish is cut into cubes and seasoned with ingredients that are common in Japanese cooking such as soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions.

This summer has become the summer of poke in my kitchen. I am not sure how it happened but suddenly I find myself craving it all the time. Perhaps it is because the temperatures this summer have been unbearably hot and I can’t stand eating anything hot or even turning on a burner most nights. Or, maybe it is just that I have come to appreciate the simplicity of chopping up a few quality ingredients and combining them into an incredibly tasty dish. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop making and eating poke. Today’s recipe for spicy ahi tuna features fresh ahi tuna with a little kick.

I get my fish from a local fishmonger which has fresh fish flown in every day. Many of the local sushi restaurants in town order their fish from them too so you know it has to be good. I always ask the fishmonger which fish that they have in that day would be good to use to make poke. On my last visit, I picked up some ahi tuna and salmon.  I will have a few more poke recipes coming your way in the coming weeks.

Figure that you will want between 4 to 6 ounces of fish per person. I always serve poke with rice and either shredded cabbage, a cucumber salad, or seaweed salad to round out the meal.

The beauty of poke is that you make a simple, flavorful dressing that will lightly coat the fish. The fish is cut into small cubes which maximizes the surface area available to soak up the flavorful dressing. Then, you simply add rice (either brown or white) into a bowl, top with the spicy ahi tuna, and some vegetable matter and you have a perfect summer meal. I will often make a little bit extra of everything so I have leftovers for lunch the next day!

How to Make Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke Pin

Somen Noodle Salad

Somen Salad

I cannot stop making Somen salad this summer.  I think I have made it three weeks in a row. My friend Liz gave me the recipe years ago. Over the years, I made it from time to time when I needed an easy but tasty salad. But, then the recipe sort of dropped out of my brain and rotation. I hadn’t even thought about making it in forever.

Then, Liz recently mentioned that she was making Somen salad for dinner. And, just like that I had Somen salad on the brain again. Somen noodles are thin, white Japanese noodles made from wheat flour. They can be found with the Asian foods in most grocery stores. They cook very quickly and are typically served cold.

Somen salad combines somen noodles, lettuce, green onions, and scrambled eggs with a sesame seed dressing. The original recipe called for iceberg lettuce but I often will substitute Romaine since I typically have it in the fridge. Vegetarians will find this to be a satisfying meal but you could also serve it as a side dish alongside grilled flank steak or with pork tenderloin.

Somen Salad

Somen salad makes a terrific weeknight dinner as it takes very little time to prepare. Pluls, if you only dress the salad that you are eating, somen salad leftovers make a great brown bag lunch the next day.

Asian Noodles

Asian Noodle Guide

photograph: Vicky Wasik

The Serious Eats website has a great guide on shopping for Asian noodles which you can find here. Somen noodles are listed in the article if you want a visual of the type of noodle you will need for this recipe. The article includes descriptions and photographs of the most popular noodles. The article also features link to recipes using the various types of noodles. I encourage you to read up and then visit an Asian market and pick up a few new types of noodles to try.

Somen Salad pin

If Asian food is your jam, you may want to check out these recipes too:

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut shrimp. I adore this easy and elegant appetizer.  The coconut and panko are a crunchy coating to the tender and sweet shrimp. The recipe comes together in very little time and is quite a stunner on the table. You could also easily double the recipe, serve with rice and veggies, and enjoy a scrumptious meal.

I will always have a sweet spot in my heart for coconut shrimp. It was one of my father’s favorite foods. That may not mean much to you but my father was one of those people who considered food as not much more than fuel. He wasn’t the most satisfying person to cook for because when you asked him what he thought of a meal you had prepared for him his most common response was ‘it was okay.’

Coconut ShrimpA

Nevertheless, he did love coconut shrimp. I will admit that I often cringed when he ordered the deep-fried version of coconut shrimp out at a restaurant. Therefore, I began testing recipes where I baked the coconut shrimp rather than fried it in oil.

I made him this version numerous times and often received the elusive compliment that he thought it was delicious. You can pair these shrimp with commercially prepared mango salsa (I like Costco’s) for a quick dipping sauce. On the other hand, you can easily blend up the spicy mango dipping sauce recipe listed below and have enough left over to dip all kinds of crazy delicious foods into it.

Coconut Shrimp

Pairing the coconut shrimp with this spicy mango sauce is new for me though. My father probably would not be crazy about it but I love it. You get a little bit of sweet from the mango and coconut milk and some heat from the Sriracha and chipotle chili powder. I think it is a perfect complement to the shrimp and it could not be easier to pull together.

How to Make Coconut Shrimp

Coconut Shrimp

Spicy Mango Sauce

Here is the link to my post on how to make spicy mango sauce or you can follow the directions below.

Ingredients

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced

¾ cup canned coconut milk

1 tablespoon Sriracha

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 lime, juice and zest

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1/2  teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Place ingredients for sauce in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Put sauce in a canning jar or covered container for one hour.

Coconut Shrimp

If you are interested in other Asian-inspired recipes, here are few to try:

Easy Kimchi Fried Rice

Easy Kimchi Fried RiceDon’t bother with take-out when you can make fried rice at home in no time at all. The secret is to cook your rice ahead of time. I usually cook it the day before I want to make fried rice but sometimes I will prepare a batch of rice and once it is cool I put it in a freezer bag and freeze it for future use. When you make fried rice you want the rice to be cold and a little dried out, so, it is preferable to not cook it just prior to making fried rice.

I adore kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean condiment of fermented cabbage. I love its funky flavor but know that it can be a bit of an acquired taste for many.  One benefit of kimchi is that it is full of probiotics from the fermentation process.  You can find kimchi in a glass jar in the refrigerated cases in the produce section of many grocery stores. Oftentimes, it will be placed near the tofu, egg roll and wanton wrappers. Adding kimchi to fried rice gives it great flavor but doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Easy Kimchi Fried RiceAnother great thing about preparing fried rice at home is that you can customize it so it is exactly the way you like it. Add the veggies, protein, or flavors that you love. You can use this recipe as a base and then make it your own by preparing it just the way you want.

Sometimes I will scramble a few eggs and add them into the rice just as I am finishing it up. Other times, I will fry a few eggs sunny-side up and serve one on top of each serving of the fried rice. You can add shrimp, leftover pork or chicken, or pineapple or cashews!

See what I mean?  Once you try this recipe I hope you will be hooked.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy | Veggie | Asian | VegetarianBroccoli and cauliflower sometimes bore me. I need novelty. I like to mix things up a little in order to keep it interesting. Once the garden is done and farmers markets have packed it in for another year I crave variety in my produce. One way that I satisfy that craving is to grocery shop at ethnic markets.

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy | Asian | Vegetarian | Easy | Healthy

On a recent trip to an Asian market I picked up a large bag of baby bok choy for about $2.50. Baby bok choy is tender, mild, and can be substituted for any other green that you typically use like spinach or Swiss chard.

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy | Asian | Vegetarian | Easy | HealthyI used the baby bok choy in noodle soup, sautéed with onions, peppers, and mushrooms in a frittata, and stir-fried in a delectable sauce of garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Baby bok choy is easy to prepare by rinsing it under water in a colander and let it drain. It can be chopped into thin ribbons or in this recipe the bok choy is sliced in half lengthwise.

Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy

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