here's my take on the classic "cucumber salad" that many hmong enjoy, especially during the warmer seasons when they are abundant and easily found, if not in your mum's garden then at the local farmer's markets. traditionally prepared using shredded green papaya, cucumbers have been used as a lighter - more refreshing - alternative... and so, i offer you my own simplified variation.
like any salad, there really is no wrong way to put it together, however, be cautious of how much fish sauce you splash in because it could quickly get too salty, fast. the following is how i enjoy it and i'm sure you will too! it's a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty and just plain delicious - especially when enjoyed outdoors under the sun! :)
this recipe is very simple; a light and refreshing take from what you may be used to - if you're familiar with this dish - where the fusion of each fruit's natural juices is the secret behind the complex flavor combinations. i purposely leave out the shrimp paste(s), padaek, tamarind, etc. that i'd normally add if i was preparing it with green papaya because cucumbers contain a lot more water and therefore releases a lot more natural juices during the process in which i enjoy enhancing, rather than masking, with the addition of more subtle ingredients.
and, it doesn't hurt that i don't feel bad from consuming all the fermented and/or high-sodium ingredients found in the typical green papaya version.
2 cups shredded cucumbers
1/4 cups shredded carrots
1 cups shredded mango
1 wedge of lime
1/2 roma tomato, sliced
1 tablesppon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon msg (optional)
thai chilies (optional)
serves 2-4 people.
*this is really the only dish in which i use msg to enhance the overall flavor because of the simplicity of ingredients.
*chilies are also optional... or to preference.
*squeeze in only half the lime juice from wedge when combining all ingredients. if you prefer it a little more sour after it's all been mixed well, squeeze in the remainder.