This quick and easy recipe for Spicy Pickled Cucumbers will knock your socks off. It's a pretty successful rendition of the incredibly delicious Din Tai Fung cucumber salad recipe. The perfect appetizer or side, they're spicy, sweet, crispy and refreshing.
A few years ago my friend Rebecca took me on a Chinese food tour in Los Angeles.
We went to several places, but one restaurant stood out the most, Din Tai Fung -- where I had the most amazing Spicy Pickled Cucumbers that came in a tiny bowl as a side dish.
I recreated them for you!
These cucumbers are spicy, crisp, refreshing, and a little bit sweet -- all at once!
Din Tai Fung Cucumber Recipe
At Din Tai Fung Rebecca ordered Juicy Pork Dumplings -- hands down, the most delicious dumplings I've ever had. (Each small dumpling was like having a bite of warm, comforting, hearty soup.)
To complement the dumplings, Rebecca also ordered a wonderful dish of Spicy Pickled Cucumbers, which was a highlight that I've recreated here.
This might not be exactly the way the Din Tai Fung cucumber salad recipe is made, but I think I've come pretty close!
How to Make Spicy Pickled Cucumbers
- Slice the cucumbers into rounds and place them in a bowl sprinkled with salt. Let them sit for twenty minutes and then drain and rinse them with cold water. Dry them with paper towels and place them in a another bowl.
Look how much excess water is removed from the cucumbers when they sit for twenty minutes mixed with salt.
- Warm sugar with rice vinegar only until it dissolves. Pour this over the cucumbers, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- In a small sauté pan, heat grapeseed oil with sesame oil and chili paste. Cook only until it's sizzling, about two minutes. Stir and cool.
- Add the chili oil to the cucumbers, refrigerate for at least two hours and ideally overnight.
(More detailed instructions are below.)
What to Serve with Spicy Pickled Cucumbers
I think this cucumber dish is fabulous with all sorts of grilled meats and vegetables -- especially with Asian flavors. The sweet-spicy refreshing taste perfectly compliments the robust char from the grill.
Marinated Grilled Portobello Mushrooms would be delicious alongside the cucumbers.
I also love them with this Asian inspired tofu dish, and this amazing Miso Broiled Black Cod.
How long will they keep?
Spicy Pickled Cucumbers will keep well a few weeks in the refrigerator.
- Don't skip the first step of letting the cucumbers sit in salt for twenty minutes. I know it's tempting to save time, but this step removes excess water from cucumbers, and adds flavor.
- If your prefer more or less heat, adjust the chili paste amount to your taste.
- I always like using very neutral oils when I cook with Asian flavors so it doesn't compete or detract from the other flavors. The recipe calls for grapeseed oil -- you could also use vegetable or canola oil.
- I think this is best served cold and after marinating overnight.
I hope you love my version of the Din Tai Fung Cucumber recipe as much as I do!
* If you're curious, here's a list of the other awesome places Rebecca took me to . . . .
Si Hai Restaurant -- Here we had an amazing Tawianese breakfast of a hand pie called Ngau Yuk Sau Ban. It was made with pickled vegetables and very thinly sliced marinated beef all wrapped into a super, flaky and light pastry -- similar to puff pastry, only made with pork fat instead of butter.
Here Rebecca picked up a delicious dessert for her family, Do Fu Fa, which means soybean custard -- it's served with a lovely, light ginger syrup.
Half & Half Tea House
I had a delicious, delightful drink here -- Coffee & Milk Tea with Boba.
Spicy Pickled Cucumbers Recipe
- 1 pound small pickling cucumbers (Persian are great), washed and dried
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3½ tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1½ tablespoons chili paste (Sambal Oelek is perfect)
- Prepare the cucumbers. After the cucumbers are washed and dried, cut them into ¼ to ½ inch rounds and place them in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle them with the salt and gently mix. Let them sit for 20 minutes. Pour the salted cucumbers into a strainer and drain and rinse them with cold water. Dry them with paper towels and place them in a new mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Prepare the vinegar and marinate. In a small sauté pan, over low heat, warm the sugar with the vinegar only until it dissolves, about 2 minutes. Pour this over the cucumbers and gently mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Stir them once or twice during this time.
- Make chili oil. In a small sauté pan, heat the grapeseed oil with the sesame oil and chili paste. Cook only until it's sizzling, about 2 minutes. Stir and let it cool to room temperature.
- Add the chili oil, marinate and serve. Remove the cucumbers from the refrigerator. Stir in the chili oil and return them to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and ideally overnight to continue to marinate.
Spicy, crunchy cucumbers are the perfect summer appetizer.
Yes, love them during the summer. Thanks, Angie. 🙂 ~Valentina
We are used to "quick pickled" cucumbers and I make a jar every now and then but this is completely new level for me ! Great twist Valentina !
Thanks so much. Hope you love them! 🙂 ~Valentina
Love Din Tai Fung...been going for years and always order the spicy cucumbers. I'm trying your recipe today!! (Next time you get there--try the spicy wontons--OH MY!)
Yay! This makes me happy, Mindi. Thank you! 🙂 ~Valentina
Yum!! I adore cucumbers and these sound delicious!!! A fun new pickle to try this summer.
Thanks so much, Liz. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!
I love how straightforward this is. I bet it tastes so fresh! Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you, Jeff. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
Such an awesome side dish and love the spicy!
Thanks, Kim! 🙂 ~Valentina
Your timing is perfect, Valentina! We have cucumbers coming in our farm share and I hadn't figured out what to do with them. Now I know because these spicy, pickled cucs look addictive!
Yay! Thanks, Marissa. Hope you love them. 🙂 ~Valentina
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
I love all the spices with these cucumbers! Perfect for hot summer days! I can wait to give them a try.
Thanks, Kathy. Hope you're enjoying the beginning of summer! 🙂 ~Valentina
John / Kitchen Riffs
Such a terrific dish! SO simple, and nice, direct flavors. Thanks!
Thank you, John. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
I’m so excited about this recipe. I’ve never wanted to make pickles, for some reason, but I love everything pickled! And I’ve got cucumbers in the garden. Thanks!
Thank you, Mimi. I really hope you like this recipe -- they are so delicious and quite pickle-like, which is an odd thing to say because they're "pickled!" 😉 ~Valentina
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
I love pickled veg, but I've never had pickled cucumbers! Given that they're spicy and pickled, I know I'd just love them. This is something I would reach for when I'm feeling a little hungry and want a snack. Delish! 🙂
Thanks Dawn. I hope you try and love them! 🙂 ~Valentina
David Scott Allen
I actually made this before I had a chance to comment. We love cucumber salad, and the spicy version was absolutely perfect with our noodle dish the other evening. Thanks for yet another recipe that I know will become a standard in our house!
PS - isn’t sambal oelek the best?
You are so kind, David. Thank you. Makes me so happy you like this and other recipes of mine. And yes, I'm never without Sambal Oelek! 🙂 ~Valentina