Chinese Cucumber Salad Recipe: Step-by-Step Tutorial

by Ella

Chinese cucumber salad is a vibrant and refreshing dish that showcases the crisp texture and delicate flavor of cucumbers paired with a tangy and savory dressing. This traditional Chinese side dish is beloved for its simplicity, versatility, and ability to complement a wide range of main courses. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of making Chinese cucumber salad at home, from selecting the freshest cucumbers to mastering the art of balancing flavors in the dressing. Whether you’re seeking a light and healthy appetizer or a vibrant side dish to accompany your favorite Chinese cuisine, this recipe is sure to delight your taste buds and impress your guests.

Chinese Cucumber Salad:

Chinese cucumber salad, also known as “pai huang gua” in Mandarin, is a classic dish that originated in China’s Sichuan province. It is characterized by thinly sliced cucumbers tossed in a tangy dressing made from vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and chili flakes. The salad is often garnished with toasted sesame seeds, cilantro, and green onions for added flavor and visual appeal.


This salad offers a perfect balance of flavors, with the crispness of the cucumbers complemented by the tangy, savory, and slightly spicy dressing. It serves as a refreshing palate cleanser and a cooling contrast to rich and spicy dishes, making it a popular accompaniment to a variety of Chinese meals.


Key Ingredients for Chinese Cucumber Salad:

Before diving into the recipe, let’s explore the key ingredients needed to make Chinese cucumber salad:


Cucumbers: Choose fresh, firm, and crisp cucumbers for the best results. English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers are ideal for this salad due to their thin skin, tender flesh, and minimal seeds.


Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar adds a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the dressing, balancing the other ingredients’ savory and spicy notes. You can use seasoned rice vinegar or plain rice vinegar in this recipe.

Soy Sauce: Soy sauce adds depth of flavor and saltiness to the dressing. Opt for low-sodium soy sauce if you prefer a less salty salad.

Sesame Oil: Toasted sesame oil contributes a nutty aroma and rich flavor to the dressing, enhancing the overall taste of the salad. Use high-quality sesame oil for the best results.

Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves add pungent flavor and aromatic complexity to the dressing. Mince the garlic finely for even distribution.

Chili Flakes: Red chili flakes or chili oil provide a subtle heat and spiciness to the salad. Adjust the amount of chili flakes according to your desired level of heat.

Sugar: A small amount of sugar balances the acidity of the vinegar and enhances the overall flavor of the dressing. You can use granulated sugar or honey as a sweetener.

Toasted Sesame Seeds: Toasted sesame seeds add a nutty crunch and visual appeal to the salad. Toast the sesame seeds lightly in a dry skillet until golden brown before adding them to the salad.

Now that we’ve covered the key ingredients let’s proceed with the step-by-step recipe for making Chinese cucumber salad at home.

Step-by-Step Recipe for Chinese Cucumber Salad:


  • 2 English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)


Prepare the Cucumbers:

Wash the cucumbers thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Trim off the ends of the cucumbers and discard them.

Using a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer, thinly slice the cucumbers into rounds or half-moons, depending on your preference. You can also use a vegetable peeler to create thin ribbons of cucumber for a unique presentation.

Make the Dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, minced garlic, chili flakes, and sugar until well combined. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more soy sauce for saltiness, sugar for sweetness, or chili flakes for heat.

Combine the Salad:

Place the sliced cucumbers in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers, tossing gently to coat them evenly with the dressing.

Allow the cucumber salad to marinate in the dressing for at least 15-20 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld together. For best results, refrigerate the salad for 1-2 hours to chill and intensify the flavor.

Garnish and Serve:

Before serving, sprinkle the cucumber salad with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onions for added flavor and visual appeal.

Garnish the salad with fresh cilantro leaves for a burst of freshness and herbaceous aroma.

Transfer the Chinese cucumber salad to a serving platter or individual bowls and serve immediately as a refreshing appetizer or side dish alongside your favorite Chinese dishes.

Tips for Success:

Choose cucumbers that are firm, slender, and free of blemishes or soft spots. English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers are preferred for their thin skin and tender flesh.

Slice the cucumbers thinly and uniformly for even marination and a pleasing texture. A mandoline slicer or vegetable peeler can help achieve thin and consistent slices.

Adjust the seasoning of the dressing to suit your taste preferences. You can add more or less chili flakes, sugar, or soy sauce to customize the flavor of the salad.

Allow the cucumber salad to marinate in the dressing for at least 15-20 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to develop. For best results, refrigerate the salad for an hour or two to chill and enhance the taste.

Garnish the salad with toasted sesame seeds, thinly sliced green onions, and fresh cilantro leaves for added flavor, texture, and visual appeal.

See Alos: Chinese Sausage & Rice Recipe with Sweet Soy Sauce


Chinese cucumber salad is a delightful dish that celebrates the crisp texture and delicate flavor of cucumbers with a tangy and savory dressing. By following this step-by-step recipe and incorporating fresh ingredients and aromatic spices, you can recreate the vibrant flavors of this classic Chinese dish in the comfort of your own kitchen. Whether served as a refreshing appetizer, a light side dish, or a complement to your favorite Chinese meals, this salad is sure to impress your taste buds and elevate any dining experience with its refreshing taste and vibrant presentation. So why wait? Gather your ingredients, slice up some cucumbers, and get ready to savor the irresistible flavors of homemade Chinese cucumber salad.



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