A Rare Sighting of cooked Cucumbers

Cucumbers are one of those vegetables — like lettuce — that are almost never heated. And so, when I ran across a recipe that calls for sauteing cucumbers in oil, I had to give it a try.

The recipe is in New Salads: Quick Healthy Recipes from Japan, a thin book that contains a wide variety of Japanese approaches to salad making. Although only 124 pages, it is packed with useful background information to go with the recipes, like diagrams of how to cut vegetables, explanations of the ingredients and techniques of Japanese cooking, and much more. Following chapters titled “Beautiful Salads” and “Healthy Salads,” the author presents “Simple Salads” organized by the main vegetable ingredient.

The recipe was designed for Japanese cucumbers, which have thin, edible skins and minimal seediness, but I imagine that other varieties with similar characteristics could work also, like English cucumbers and perhaps even the pale green Armenian varieties.  In my mind, the finished recipe is a side dish that serves the purpose of a small bowl of Japanese pickles as a meal enhancer rather than a full-fledged salad or side dish.

Korean-style Marinated Cucumbers

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Korean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 4 Japanese cucumbers or other cucumbers with thin skins 1 lb / 400 g
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


  1. Slice cucumbers very thinly -- you want them to be so thin that you can almost see through the slices. Toss the cucumber slices with the salt, trying to get as much of the cucumber surface covered with salt as possible (this is not so easy because the slices stick together). Let stand for a few minutes.
  2. When cucumber is soft and flexible, wrap in a cloth and squeeze out excess liquid.
  3. Finely chop the green onions.
  4. Heat the sesame oil in a pan, add the cucumbers and saute. Add half the green onions (reserving the other half for garnish), stir and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and serve.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from New Salads: Quick Healthy Recipes from Japan by Shinko Shimizu (Kodansha International, 1986)

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