This Burmese cucumber salad recipe makes a crunchy cucumber salad with sesame seeds, green chillies, purple shallots and crispy fried shallots with a dressing of fruit vinegar and sesame oil. It’s based on cucumber salad recipes from Myanmar I’ve adapted from the charming vintage Burmese cookbook Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way, dating to 1978, by Mi Mi Khaing.
On the weekend I made this incredibly rich Indian-style Burmese chicken curry, which I long ago adapted from my favourite Burmese cookbook, Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way (1978) by Mi Mi Khaing. We ate it with Burmese coconut rice, fiery chilli lime pickles, a spicy mango chutney, and cooling Indian raita, all of which we scooped up with crunchy papadams.
As we had leftover chicken curry today, we decided to stick with the Indian-Burmese theme tonight and make a few more dishes we love from Myanmar, including this Burmese cucumber salad recipe, which does the same job as raita, refreshing the palate and providing contrast.
Terence is cooking up this Burmese egg curry to go with the leftovers as I write, and I’m preparing a simple Burmese relish while I toss up between making this Burmese raw cabbage salad, our Shan tomato salad recipe or this Shan vermicelli noodle salad. Decisions, decisions.
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Burmese Cucumber Salad Recipe with Sesame Seeds, Green Chillies and Crispy Fried Shallots
This Burmese cucumber salad recipe makes the perfect accompaniment to the Indian-style Burmese curry, along with this classic Burmese chicken curry, both of which we’ve had on repeat for years. They’re two of our favourite chicken curry recipes and probably some of our favourite chicken recipes.
That often surprises people when I tell them, because Burmese curries get such a bad rap. They’re perhaps Southeast Asia’s most misunderstood curries, criticised for being too heavy and too oily. Yet what most visitors to Myanmar don’t understand is that they’re meant to be eaten with rice, salads and vegetables.
The rice soaks up the rich oily gravies (yum!), while the salads and vegetable dishes (which we will share recipes for in the future) provide contrasting flavours and crunchy textures which freshen the palate and lighten up the meal. You simply wouldn’t eat an oily curry alone, but would ensure your fork also held a little rice and salad.
When I say I’ve adapted Mi Mi Khaing’s recipes, I’ve generally only tweaked them a little, and that’s primarily because they often result in gentler versions of dishes we’ve eaten in Myanmar, which we found to be richer and punchier in flavour on our travels.
That could be due to changing tastes in Myanmar or perhaps because of Mi Mi Khaing’s background, which was upper middle class. The same can be said of Cambodia’s elites, who in my experience prefer more subtle flavours – and I’ve also been told so!
When it comes to Burmese curries, we enjoy the richer, more intense flavours we ate on the streets, in markets, and in eateries and restaurants in Myanmar. But when it comes to salads, we prefer the crunchiness and freshness of Mi Mi Khaing’s salads to those mostly sampled in Myanmar that often sat for some time and were softer in texture.
So just a few quick tips to making this Burmese cucumber salad recipe.
Tips to Making this Burmese Cucumber Salad Recipe
I only have a few tips to making this Burmese cucumber salad recipe as it couldn’t be more easy. Make this salad just before eating, don’t let it sit around, and use the freshest of raw vegetables for more crunch.
I add the finely sliced purple shallots, sliced green chillies, sliced cucumbers, and minced garlic to a mixing bowl.
Then I make the dressing in glass jar with lid, adding the sesame oil, fruit vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar), fresh lime juice, salt, caster sugar, and half the sesame seeds to the jar, screwing the lid on, and shaking it well. Make sure to taste the dressing before adding it to the vegetables and adjust the seasoning to suit your palate.
I then pour the dressing into the mixing bowl with the veggies, combine everything well, and taste it again, adjusting the seasoning if needed. I then use a slotted spoon to scoop up the salad and arrange it on a serving plate. I leave any excess dressing in the bowl, as the last thing I want is a soggy salad.
I then sprinkle the remaining the sesame seeds, crispy fried shallots and fresh coriander on at the last minute and serve the cucumber salad immediately.
If we won’t be eating for a while, I’ll leave the coriander off and serve that and a dish of crispy fried shallots on the side, so my guests can help themselves as the fried shallots won’t be so crispy after sitting on the salad for a while. I recommend you do the same. Enjoy!
Burmese Cucumber Salad Recipe
- 1 purple shallot peeled and finely sliced – soaked in water if too sharp
- 1 long green chilli finely sliced and deseeded
- 2 large cucumbers finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp fruit vinegar – or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp salt – or to taste
- ½ tsp fine caster sugar
- 2 tbsp black and white sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp crispy fried shallots
- 1 tsp shrimp powder – optional
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves only
- To a salad bowl or mixing bowl, add the finely sliced purple shallots, sliced green chillies, sliced cucumbers, and minced garlic.
- To a glass jar with lid, add the sesame oil, fruit vinegar such as apple cider vinegar, fresh lime juice, salt, caster sugar, and half the sesame seeds, screw the lid on and shake well.
- Pour the dressing into the salad bowl and combine everything well, then use a slotted spoon to scoop up the salad and arrange on a serving plate. Leave any excess dressing in the bowl, as you don’t want a soggy salad.
- Sprinkle with the remaining the sesame seeds, crispy fried shallots and fresh coriander and serve immediately.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this Burmese cucumber salad recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.