Simple, fast, and a delicious thing to eat when the heat is up and the humidity is through the roof…
I ate a decent amount of this in Viet Nam when I was visiting this summer. I find myself craving this every once a while, thankfully it’s easy to make and keeps relatively well for about a day (until the cukes get soggy), which is why I make it in small batches. It’s also very easy to adjust according to your own tastes.
The main thing to concentrate on is the juxtaposition of flavors: salty and tangy (from the fish sauce), savory (garlic), sour (vinegar and lime juice), and sweet (sugar). Mix it up until you find something that suits your palate.
Also, I’ve had friends complain about fish sauce — first, if you’re a vegetarian, that’s one issue, and of course, omit the fish sauce (and whatever other animal products) you need to. However, if you don’t have dietary restrictions, I would really recommend using fish sauce, and if nothing else, giving it a fair try. It does smell awful straight out of the bottle, but you’ll be surprised at how a splash of the stuff can brighten and solidify the flavors of a dish, with the “fishy” smell entirely disappearing.
When I was a kid, I remember complaining to my cooking mother how bad the fish sauce she was using stank… Whining that I would NEVER eat the food she made with that stinky liquid… Then being totally and deliciously overwhelmed by whatever dish she later set in front of me. Moral of the story: don’t argue with your momma. 😉
Vietnamese Cucumber Salad
About 1-2 side dish servings
- 1/2 a cucumber, cut into slices
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Asian chili garlic sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- A few turns of fresh ground black pepper
- Toss together, adjust seasonings to taste.
- Let sit for ~15 minutes. Serve chilled or room temperature.