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Refreshing Sesame Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic & Ginger Dressing

Updated on August 3, 2012

This delicious salad makes for a wonderful summer dish. The contrasted pairing of the cool cucumber with the bite of the red onion together combine with the flavors of cilantro, sesame, ginger, and garlic to make a wonderfully refreshing salad for a hot summer day.



  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp large grained sea salt
  • 2 large cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 4 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds

Kitchen Essentials for This Recipe


  1. In a large non-reactive bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and sugar.
  2. Add the sliced red onion and let the onion marinate for 1 hour.
  3. In a mortar and pestle, add the ginger and salt and pound to combine. Add the garlic and continue pounding but stop shy of making them a paste.
  4. Add the ginger-garlic-salt mixture to the marinated onions and combine.
  5. Add the cucumber slices, cilantro, and sesame seeds and toss. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes.
  6. To serve, stir the salad once more and drain any excess liquid.

How Not to Screw It Up

  1. A friend who was too lazy to buy sunflower oil suggested using olive oil as a substitite. Don't. Olive oil can overpower the other delicate flavors of this salad. Sunflower oil really is the best. It's also lower in saturated fat than olive oil and a great source of Vitamin E.
  2. Be patient and let those onions marinate. By doing so, you will cut the bite of raw onions that can overpower the other delicate flavors.
  3. Use a large-grained sea salt to makethe ginger-garlic-salt compound. The large grains will get equally pounded and combined with the ginger and garlic. When it combines evenly, the salt here acts as a flavor enhancer that really brings out the flavors of the ginger and garlic. This is important because in this salad, you want all of the ingredients to be present in the flavors of the final product.
  4. Don't over-pound the ginger and garlic. We're not making a paste, we're just trying to bring out some of their liquid and combine their flavors.

Tried This Recipe? Rate it.

4.7 stars from 3 ratings of Cucumber Salad with Smashed Ginger & Garlic


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    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, DS Duby. I've made it for dinner parties 4 or 5 times now, and everyone is surprised at how flavorful it is. It's a big hit every time.

      Do come back and rate it! Hope you enjoy it.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 

      6 years ago from United States, Illinois

      This looks amazingly delicious I love cucumbers, I will be trying this recipe soon and come back yo rate it afterwords but I'm sure it will be awesome. voted up, interesting and useful.

    • LetitiaFT profile image


      6 years ago from Paris via California

      Wow! This looks absolutely smashing! So fresh and lovely with a tantalizing photo! Can't wait to try this one!

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you so much, Seeker7. I hope they are pleased. My partner and I find this salad so delicious and refreshing and make it often.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      What a fabulous recipe this is! I can't wait to give this a try. I have friends visiting at the end of the month as well and they are vegetarian and adore salads, so this will be a super salad for them!

      Voted this up + have shared with friends as I know they will also love this recipe!

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Mission accomplished, Patty! Hopefully the photo seals the deal. Thanks for the comment!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      The title of your Hub makes my mouth water!

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, vespawoolf! Much appreciated.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      I've marked this salad to try soon. I've always loved cucumber and parsley, but the marinated onions and dressing sounds so unique and delicious. Looking forward to it! Voted up and across the board except funny. Thank you!

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, Simone. Next time I make it, maybe you'll get the privilege of EATING it too! LOL!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Having had the privilege of seeing- not to mention SMELLING- this salad in person, I can say that it is well worth making! I'm glad you've shared this recipe for the world to enjoy, Micki!

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      eatforcheaper, I'm all for non-lettuce based salads! Hope you like this one if you make it.

      Maine, I'll give that a try, too! I love Kale.

      Thanks for the comments!

    • Maine Photography profile image

      Maine Photography 

      6 years ago from Portland, Maine

      This looks so good! My wife makes a similar salad with kale and sesame seeds.

    • eatforcheaper profile image


      6 years ago from London

      That looks great. Sometimes it's nice to have a change from lettuce based salads!

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      rob_allen, yes, very Asian much of our cuisine here in California! Thanks for the comment.

    • rob_allen profile image


      6 years ago from MNL, PH

      This is very Asian. I love cucumbers spiced with garlic and ginger that are very common in Asian countries like the Philippines. I can do this at home. Thanks for sharing! :)


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