Chinese Cucumbers

As Ann Shen from Guilin, China, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photography by Lindsay Sterling.

Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4-6 servings


  • 1 long or 2 smaller cucumbers
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar* (if you're gluten free, please substitute with another vinegar - this is made with barley)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (if you're gluten-free, please check the label on this before use)
  • 3-4 Tbsp Chinese chili paste* (crushed dried red chilis in oil with Sichuan pepper, salt, and peanuts)
  • 4 green onions, sliced into thin circles
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

*Find these ingredients at an Asian market near you, or online. For the black vinegar you could substitute red wine, white wine, rice, cider vinegar, or balsamic with a little water added to it. For the chili paste, you could use anything hot - try some chili flakes sauteed in oil, chili oil, or the more mainstream Sambal Olek chili paste (this is much hotter so use only 1 Tbsp) - and add a handful of whole peanuts.


1. The goal is to have equally long, wedge-shaped segments of cucumber to stack into a neat pile. To do this, cut the cucumber into equally sized segments, about 2 inches long. Then cut the segments in half lengthwise and then cut the haves lengthwise again into to wedges.

2. On a serving platter, stack the cucumber segments on top of each other like a wood-pile.

3. Pour the vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce over the cucumbers and around them on the dish.  

4. Spoon Chinese chili paste on top and around the cucumbers.

5. Sprinkle green onions and cilantro on top.