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Whenever Din Tai Fung is mentioned, it’ll always remind me of their signature soup dumplings (xiao long bao 小笼包), Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shao-Mai (烧卖), beef noodle soup (牛肉面), and their refreshingly crunchy spicy cucumber salad (辣味黄瓜). So here I am replicating the delicious crunchy Din Tai Fung Cucumber salad.
This Asian cucumber salad dish is very simple, yet flavourful. It’s the perfect summer starter and immediately opens your appetite for bigger meals. It’s also great for pairing with beer over friends’ gatherings. Think about perfectly crisp cucumbers marinated in spicy sweet and tangy vinegar seasoning. It’s quick and easy to make, I usually make a batch a day in advance and let the flavours develop fully before savouring it the next day. Not to mention, this cucumber salad is low in calories and full of natural goodness, not only from the cucumber but also from the immune-boosting garlic.
What is Din Tai Fung?
Din Tai Fung is a world-renowned Taiwanese restaurant chain with outlets in most countries and cities, I actually first heard of them in Shanghai, China and we would go out in the cold near midnight after rounds and rounds of work meetings, and treat ourselves to their soup dumplings (小笼包) and their crab meat soup dumplings (蟹肉小笼包). That was when I took notice of this restaurant brand and the delicious soup dumplings they served. And when they first opened in Singapore, there were long queues of people waiting to try their famous dishes. Even after opening several outlets in Singapore, and after so many years, their restaurants are always fully-packed with long queues of people waiting to be seated, especially during the weekends.
Sometime in 2010, their Hong Kong Branch was awarded one Michelin Star. This is a highly respected culinary honour and it further propelled their popularity in the culinary world.
Tips on making the Din Tai Fung cucumber salad
- There are a lot of recipes out there using Persian cucumbers. You might not be able to find this specific type of cucumbers in your grocery stores. Crunchy cucumbers such as mini cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers all work in this recipe.
- As you can see from the pictures, I kept the skin on. I do know some friends who would prefer to peel off the skin but if you wash it thoroughly, it’s perfectly alright to keep the skin on.
- For the rice vinegar, I tried using a Chinese brand white coloured rice vinegar which costs less than $1 from a supermarket and it was so bland the dish hardly tastes tangy. I used a Japanese brand rice vinegar another time and that turned out perfect. You can also use apple cider vinegar, it’s not only full of tangy flavours, it’s also comes with great health benefits.
- Adding salt to the cucumbers will help draw out the extra water content, in a process called the osmosis. Leave the salt for 30-45 minutes, drain off the water and rinse the cucumbers, then pat dry with a paper towel. However refrain from adding too much as it makes the cucumber too salty. Even after adding the marinade, the saltiness is a little too much to stomach. In this recipe, I added 1.5 tbsp to 500g of cucumbers. Even though salting the cucumbers is not totally mandatory, I’ll strongly recommend to salt the cucumbers as it makes the cucumbers really crispy.
- As mentioned in the above point, salting the cucumbers makes it salty, thus there is no need to add salted sauces such as soy sauce to the marinade.
- Chill in the fridge after adding the marinade for at least an hour. Best is to leave it overnight. The flavours will develop and you get a really refreshing cucumber salad that is as crispy.
Watch how to make Din Tai Fung cucumber salad on YouTube
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Din Tai Fung Cucumber Salad 鼎泰丰辣味黄瓜
- Wash the cucumber and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut off both ends and cut the cucumbers into 1 cm thickness.500 g mini or persian cucumbers
- Transfer cucumbers into a large bowl and add salt. Mix well with the salt. Leave for about 30-45 minutes. The salt will help draw out extra moisture from the cucumbers so it will stay crunchy.1.5 tbsp salt
- Drain off the water that's coming out from the cucumber. Rinse the cucumbers to remove the salt. Pat dry the cucumbers in between paper towels.
- Peel and mince the garlic.2-3 cloves garlic
- Mix marinade by combining the sesame oil, chilli oil, rice vinegar, mirin, Stevia sweetener and minced garlic.2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp chilli oil, 2 tbsp mirin, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp Stevia sweetener
- Add the marinade to the cucumber and mix well. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Note: test taste the cucumbers, they are crunchy and flavourful after adding the marinade.
- The cucumber salad is best served chilled. Enjoy!
Sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday.