I recently had some friends over for dinner and this salad was one of the dishes I served that everyone really liked. It is a twist on traditional cucumber salad that my mother-in-law used to make for “ladies luncheon” and is a play on the technique of pickling which dates back to as early as 1000 BC when vinegar was used as a preservative. Modern day pickled foods are often very high in sodium because salt is frequently added during the fermentation process. So if you are following a low sodium diet, which can have considerable health benefits, it is typically recommended that you avoid pickled foods. In this case, however, the salt is kept to a minimum and as a result there is only about 138 mg of sodium per serving. This is still too high to be considered a “low sodium” food, but if you love the taste of pickles, this salad might help satisfy your taste buds if you ever have a craving. (Remember, the recommended sodium intake for people under age 51 is 2,300 mg/day; for age 51 and older, it is 1,500 mg/day).
To make this salad, start an hour or two before serving in order to give the flavors time to combine and the pickling process to take place. The salad can be served by itself or as an accent to Chicken or Vegetable Satay. I like to sometimes make a little extra, and then bring it to work to help spice up a mid-week workday lunch.
Southeast Asian Cucumber Salad (makes 5-7 servings)
- 3 cucumbers
- 2-3 Tbsp. Red onion, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped finely
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- ½ Serrano pepper, chopped finely
1. Peel and slice cucumbers in half. Remove seeds, slice into thin half-rounds and place along with the onions and cilantro in a medium-size container with a lid.
2. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small separate bowl and pour over the cucumber mixture. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.
3. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Garnish with cherry tomato halves and a sprig of cilantro, if desired.
Approximate nutrition information per serving: 30 calories; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 0 mg cholesterol; 138 mg sodium; 7 grams carbohydrate; 1.4 grams dietary fiber; 1.4 grams protein.