Pickled Cucumber and Avocado SaladI’ve already admitted that I’ve become obsessed with cucumbers since discovering my dog loves them so much. I love them in cocktails, dipped in Feta-Yogurt Sauce, even just plain. But lightly pickled with rice vinegar and sesame oil is my all time favorite.

This is an incredibly quick and easy side dish with Thai Shrimp Cakes. It’s also great with seared salmon or any other fish. It takes seconds to make. It’s also vegan and gluten-free, to boot!

Pickled Cucumber and Avocado Salad

Ingredients

  • 4-5 small Persian or Kirby cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar (start with 2 and taste)
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Preparation

Using a mandoline or a knife, slice cucumbers as thinly as possible. In a medium bowl, mix cucumbers with salt and sugar and let it sit for a minute or two to soften. Add vinegar and sesame oil. Gently stir in avocado and top with sesame seeds.

Nerd Tips

“Seasoned” rice vinegar has added salt and sugar so use unseasoned so you can control how salty and sweet the dish is.

Toasted sesame oil is extremely perishable so keep it in the fridge.

[Note: despite some dissent from the internet, Emily reliably informs me that rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are the same thing; rice wine is not the same. The vinegar (whether or not your bottle has the word “wine” in it) is the ingredient you want for adding sourness to this recipe; rice wine (of which sake is the best known variant) would be used in cooking to finish a dish in the same way you use cooking sherry, vermouth, or regular wine, and you would usually burn most of it off. Mirin is another variation of rice wine, with a lot of sweetness, and we use it to balance out sauces for dumplings and other Asian dishes. When I made this cucumber dish this week, I accidentally used rice wine instead of rice vinegar, and it ended up much boozier than expected and without the necessary sourness to balance the added sugar. So just be careful which bottle you pick up – Matt]