• Spicy Sweet Cucumber Salad


Chili crisp is the “it” ingredient of the moment.

I make my own in two-gallon batches because we use so much of it when we are cooking for events and recipe testing in our kitchen studio. I like versions that are loaded with sweet spices (cinnamon/star anise, etc) and Sichuan peppercorns. I put it on anything and everything. So I was thinking, besides noodle dishes, what would be a good place for you to start playing around with this superb condiment—and the answer is a crisp and bright cucumber salad that you can make as simply or as fanciful as you like.

PLUS, it incorporates a little bit of easy knifework that will blow the minds of your guests. Maybe even yours when you see how easy it is. Video viewing is a MUST.

Spicy Sweet Cucumber Salad


  • 2 Euro hydro cukes or 12 Persian cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon plus a teaspoon or so of kosher salt

The dressing*

  • 2 tablespoons chili crisp**
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural aged soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil


Cut cucumbers, discarding tips, by laying between a set of chopsticks  or very thin dowels duck taped to your cutting board to prevent your knife from going all the way through the cuke. Place the sticks just close enough so they cradle the cucumber, cut in 1/8- to ¼-inch “slices” first at a 45-degree angle down length of the cuke, then flip the cucumber over  and cut at  a 90-degree angle. You will create giant springs of cucumbers. Don’t cut all the way through the cucumbers.

Sprinkle with the kosher salt. Set cucumbers in a colander set into a large bowl and drain/rest for 60-90 minutes. Toss gently at 30 minute marks. Rinse cukes very lightly. Spill cucumbers into a tray with a towel. Roll them around to dry. Let sit for a bit while you make the dressing.

Gently press on cukes to get any excess liquid out. If using long cukes and you want to cut into smaller lengths, by all means do so.

Combine the dressing ingredients and adjust for sweetness and acid (vinegar). Toss with the dressing, chill for an hour and serve, garnishing with cilantro sprigs, crushed peanuts, scallions or just as is

*If you like, add some fermented Chinese black beans, they are superb crushed and added in this dressing.

**Look for store-bought versions that include Sichuan peppercorns. If you are using a commercial chili crisp that doesn’t have Sichuan peppercorns, add a tablespoon of crushed ones to your dressing.

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