Hey there, salad lovers! Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with a refreshing and vibrant Filipino twist with some heat on a classic cucumber salad. Bursting with flavors that will transport you straight to the tropical paradise of the Philippines, this delightful dish is packed with crisp cucumbers, tangy vinegar, cilantro, and a pop of heat from the red chili pepper. Whether you're craving a light and healthy snack or looking for the perfect side dish to accompany your main course, Filipino cucumber salad is here to add a burst of sunshine to your culinary adventures. So grab those cucumbers and let's dive into this mouthwatering (5-ingredient) recipe!
What Is Cucumber Salad Filipino Style
Filipino cucumber salad, also known as "Ensaladang Pipino," is a refreshing and zesty side dish that perfectly complements any meal. It combines crisp cucumbers, tangy vinegar, aromatic onions, and just the right kick from spicy chili peppers. 🌶
To start off, gather these simple yet flavorful ingredients: fresh cucumbers, red onions, vinegar (preferably cane or coconut vinegar), sugar to balance out the acidity, salt, and black pepper.
This recipe also calls for red chili peppers, however, if you do not care for the heat, it is absolutely OK to make this without it.
Here are some friendly suggestions for substitutions that will give you that delightful burst of flavor if you do not have all the ingredients suggested in this spicy chili cucumber salad recipe.
- Cucumbers: My favorite ones to use are the smaller cucumbers as they have a very crisp and refreshing flavor. And the miniature size looks good presentation-wise. If you're out of cucumbers, fear not! You can swap them with zucchini or even jicama for a similar crunch. Just make sure to slice them thin to achieve the desired texture.
- Red Onions: No red onions? No problem! Substitute them with shallots or even spring onions (scallions) for a milder taste. These alternatives will still provide a touch of sharpness and depth to your salad.
- Rice Vinegar: this one is my favorite. The traditional Filipino cucumber salad calls for white vinegar, but if it's missing from your pantry, apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar can be excellent alternatives. They add a subtle sweetness that complements the dish perfectly.
- Brown Sugar: White sugar can be used however, in case you're looking to cut down on refined sugar or simply don't have any in your kitchen, honey or agave nectar are fantastic natural sweeteners that work well in this recipe without compromising its authenticity.
- Chili Pepper: Want to add some heat but ran out of chili peppers? Try using crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper as substitutes. Adjust the amount according to your spice tolerance and enjoy that extra kick! Try the recipe by just using one, and when you're ready to be adventurous, go for more.
- Green Onion: This is not an important component of the dish, but it does add a layer or flavor and color to the dish.
- Cilantro (garnish): the flavor of cilantro adds to the salad, however, you can omit them if you don’t care for the flavor of cilantro
How To Make This Simple Salad
STEP 1: Mike the vinaigrette! In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper until well combined.
STEP 2: Slice those cucumbers! You can go for thin rounds or even try making beautiful ribbons using a vegetable peeler. The choice is yours!
STEP 3: Once the cucumbers are sliced, place them in a large bowl along with thinly sliced red onions. This adds just the right amount of zing to our salad.
STEP 4: You can go fancy by thinly slicing the green onions on a bias. Mix them with the rest of the ingredients and top with red chili peppers.
Now, let's talk about the variations you can try with this classic Filipino cucumber salad.
1. Classic Cucumber Salad: The traditional version of this salad features thinly sliced cucumbers tossed in a tangy dressing made with vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. It's simple yet incredibly satisfying.
2. Cucumber and Tomato Salad: Take your cucumber salad up a notch by adding some juicy tomatoes into the mix. The sweetness of the tomatoes complements the crispness of the cucumbers perfectly. Drizzle it with a zesty dressing made from lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and herbs for an extra kick.
3. Asian-Inspired Cucumber Salad: Want to add an exotic twist? Try incorporating flavors from other Asian cuisines into your cucumber salad. Add some shredded carrots for color and crunchiness then toss it all together in a dressing made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey or brown sugar (for sweetness), and grated ginger. Top it off with some toasted sesame seeds!
4. Spicy Cucumber Salad: If you're feeling adventurous and love spicy food, this variation is perfect for you! Slice your cucumbers as usual but give them an extra kick by adding chopped chili peppers or red pepper flakes into the mix. Balance out the heat with a combination of vinegar, sugar (or honey).
1. Choose the Perfect Cucumbers: Look for firm cucumbers with smooth skin. The Japanese cucumbers or English cucumbers work best for this salad as they are crisp and have fewer seeds. Japanese cucumbers have thinner skin so they have cool and refreshing flavors compared to some regular cucumbers which have thicker skin and tend to have a slightly bitter taste. Remember, freshness is key!
2. Slice it Right: To achieve the perfect texture, slice your cucumbers uniformly. You can use a mandoline slicer or simply a sharp knife. If you prefer crunchier bites, go for slightly thicker slices; if you like them more delicate, opt for thinner ones.
Now, let's talk about storage. Once you've made your tantalizing Filipino cucumber salad, it's important to preserve its freshness so you can savor it later or enjoy leftovers.
- Refrigeration is key: To keep your cucumber salad at its best, place it in an airtight container and pop it in the refrigerator. The cool temperature will help maintain its vibrant flavors and crunchy texture.
- Separate containers for dressing: If your cucumber salad has been dressed before storing, consider keeping the dressing separate from the veggies. This prevents them from becoming soggy over time. When ready to serve again, simply toss everything together for that burst of delightful flavors.
- Consume within 2-3 days: While refrigeration helps prolong the shelf life of your cucumber salad, try to consume it within 2-3 days for optimal taste and quality.
- Make-ahead tip: Prep all the ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight if possible. By allowing this cucumber salad to chill in the refrigerator for some time before serving, it allows all those beautiful flavors from the vinegar dressing to seep into each slice of cucumber and develop a delightful tangy kick.
Filipino cucumber salad is a refreshing and delightful dish that perfectly captures the vibrant flavors of Filipino cuisine. With its crisp cucumbers, tangy vinegar dressing, and aromatic herbs, this salad offers a tantalizing burst of flavors in every bite. Whether enjoyed as a side dish or as a light snack on a hot summer day, it is sure to satisfy your taste buds and leave you feeling refreshed. So why not give this simple yet delicious recipe a try? Your friends and family will surely be impressed with your culinary skills and appreciate the unique taste of this authentic Filipino delight!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Definitely! "Ensaladang Pipino" actually tastes better when left to marinate for some time. Just refrigerate the salad (without the dressing) in an airtight container and prepare the dressing separately then add all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight to let all the flavors blend beautifully.
The beauty of this recipe is its versatility in that the dressing can complement any of your favorite vegetables. The key is to slice all the vegetables thinly and uniformly to allow for the dressing to marinate the veggies.
No, we do not recommend freezing this Filipino cucumber salad because it will become watery and affect the overall texture and flavor of the dish.
📖 Recipe Card
- ¼ cup Rice Vinegar
- ½ t Brown Sugar
- 1 Cucumber thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Red Onion thinly sliced
- Sprig of Cilantro
- 1 Red Chili Pepper
- Whisk together rice vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
- Cut thin slices of cucumber and place in a medium sized bowl.
- Thinly slice red onion and place in a medium sized bowl.
- Pour vinaigrette on top of sliced cucumbers and onions. Top with red chili peppers, cilantro and green onions.
- This salad is great served as a side dish with meat or seafood.
- Goes perfectly with our Caramelized Shrimp recipe.
- The best type of cucumber to use is seedless, as some types with seeds tend to taste a bit bitter.
- You can either peel or leave the skin on the cucumber.