A quick and easy summer salad bursting with flavor… and only 6 ingredients! This side dish has all of the zing, none of the fuss!
When I think about my early food influences, my grandmother, my mom, and my dad, all immediately come to mind.
Such strong forces, I sometimes forget that my soft-spoken, quick-to-belly laugh, sweetheart of a grandfather was a huge influence, in his own way.
As my grandparents got older, they spent winters in Florida, staying at an apartment nearby our house. My brother and I often walked down there after school, and would delight in my grandfather’s simple tomato salad. The best and freshest tomatoes, flavored with seasoned rice wine vinegar. We devoured bowlfuls of the stuff.
Pop Pop loved Asian flavors. I have memories of going out for Chinese when we visited my grandparents in central Pennsylvania – he always ordered the Lo Mein.
And I’ll never forget when we took him for sushi for the first time at Jo-To’s on Tamiami Trail near the Sarasota airport, he must have been in his seventies.
Like a kid in a candy store, he was so eager and excited to try all of the different dishes that he mistakenly took a GIGANTIC bite of wasabi before anyone realized what he was doing. I have never seen his eyes so wide!
Our favorite meal to make together was from a book that my mom had given me for a birthday present in 1989. It was called, “Chinese Cooking for Beginners,” and in it a recipe that was just perfect to make with the fresh catch of the day.
Pop was an avid fisherman, catching and cleaning mullet, snapper, redfish and snook all throughout the winter. The dish was crispy batter-fried fish in a ginger-garlic sauce, seasoned with ketchup and rice wine. We both loved it, and loved making it for our family.
And this simple salad is inspired by those bowlfuls of cut tomatoes that Pop would prepare for us all those years ago when we were kids. Nowadays, I make big batches of this salad, using tons of cucumbers, which stay crisp and soak up more and more vinegar the longer they sit.
Whatever leftovers we have are excellent for lunch, snacking, or spooned over a steaming bowl of sushi rice. I know you’ll love it too!
Asian Cucumber Salad
- 1 large English cucumber about 1 pound
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes large ones halved
- ¼ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup loosely packed cilantro roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons roasted and salted peanuts
- Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut across on a bias into ¼ -inch half moons. Place in a serving bowl with the tomatoes.
- Pour the rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt into the bowl and stir gently. Let the vegetables sit for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve right away, or refrigerate for a few hours. Top with peanuts just before serving.