Din Tai Fung Style Chilled Cucumber Salad

Din Tai Fung Style Chilled Cucumber Salad
Yum

My family and I are obsessed with Din Tai Fung, a famous Taiwanese restaurant with at Santa Clara outpost that we frequent.  My husband is the only one of us who has been to Taiwan, which is partly how this obsession began. Once a restaurant opened in our area, we quickly became frequent visitors. For the record, their soup dumplings are out-of-this-world, probably the best I have ever had; and I have eaten a lot of soup dumplings over the years.

chilled cucumber salad

Din Tai Fun is often mobbed with guests. When we go, it’s often for breakfast, which requires us getting in line around 9:30 am to guarantee getting in on the first seating at 10am. We ALWAYS make the first seating. But by 10 am, we are all starving–as we would never risk eating prior and, god-forbid, not being hungry when the food arrives.

We undoubtedly go through many orders of soup dumplings so outrageously good (and meticulously made) I would not dare try to replicate that recipe. But there are other tasty, simple dishes there that we love. Many things at Din Tai Fung are amazing, and not nearly as elaborate as their soup dumplings.  We all eat their broccoli, sautéed cabbage, and we normally have 2-3 orders (if not more) of the chilled cucumber salad. The cucumber salad is addictive, at least for my family as we all love cucumbers.

So this became a challenge/copycat recipe, similar to the Beef Wellington–but much less elaborate. What should not be lost is that sometimes the most simple dishes are the hardest to make.  I think that the true test of a great chef is making a roast chicken, something most people simply overcook.
chilled cucumber salad

My family and I had a lot of cucumbers when I was developing this recipe.  It is not an exact replica of the Din Tai Fung version because there are so many degrees of variance, but I think it is very, very close. And it is “close enough” according to my family. The two most important things to remember when making this are: (1) you have to use fresh small Persian cucumbers, and (2) you must marinate them for at least 4 hours. For those who don’t know Din Tai Fung, that’s ok. If you like cucumbers, I think you’ll like this.

Din Tai Fung Style Chilled Cucumber Salad

October 3, 2018
: 4
: 30 min
:
: 4 hr 30 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 5 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • For the Marinade:
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoons salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Trim the cucumbers and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and toss well to coat. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  • Step 2 For the marinade, in a small bowl add the rice vinegar, mirin, honey, canola oil, sesame oil chili garlic sauce and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  • Step 3 When the cucumbers are done marinating, rinse off the salt mixture and pat dry. Place the dried cucumbers into a gallon size ziplock. Pour the marinade over the cucumbers. Seal the bag and gently shake to mix. Lay the bag on its side and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours.
  • Step 4 To serve, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and garlic chili sauce as needed. Arrange the cucumbers on a serving plate and drizzle with some additional marinade. Serve cold.

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19 thoughts on “Din Tai Fung Style Chilled Cucumber Salad”

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  • I live in the land of Din Tai Fung (Taipei, Taiwan). We love the xiao long bao and well, everything about Din Tai Fung, except how expensive it can get. I wanted to make the cucumbers to go with some gong bao ji din and some other chinese-style dishes. These cucumbers turned out amazingly well. I substituted 2 more TBSP of rice vinegar with 1 TSP of sugar for the mirin. It still works very well. Thanks for figuring out this recipe for the rest of us who wish we had the talent to taste something and do so!

    • Hi Rebecca- Thank you for your lovely note, you made my year! I absolutely love Din Tai Fung and I agree, it is expensive. This simple recipe gets so much love and that truly warms my heart as I worked on this for a long time. Funny how sometimes the most simple things are actually the hardest to master. That’s true about a simple roast chicken as well. Thank you for making my recipe and for taking the time to write such a lovely comment. This means everything to me. Be well. Stay safe. and keep cooking. With warm regards, Andrea

  • Tried these recipe twice and it’s so amazing! I find myself impatient to wait 4 hours and ate some around 3 hours mark and it still taste so good! ? thanks for the recipe it’s amazing. Just curious how Long will it last refrigerated? Am afraid of keeping it too Long and it’s no longer edible!

    • Thank you for the lovely comment, so nice to hear a little good at a stressful time in our world like this. I make this recipe often. I have tired keeping them overnight. The honest truth is, they are not the same. The salt and vinegar break them down too much for my taste.I have also tried making them in the morning and marinating them all day, but that is also a bit too long, doable, but not nearly as tasty. Thanks again for reaching out, I always love hearing from readers. Stay safe out there!

  • this is a great recipe. i just ate at DTFung yesterday so the taste of the real thing is fresh in my memory. the korean version veers more towards garlic, and the japanese version veers more towards salt. this sits so nicely right in the middle. THANK YOU.

    • Thank you Chris for your comment and your compliment, I really love hearing feedback. This is a special recipe to me and my family and I do make it often myself!

      • I just ate at a very good ramen place, and one of their side dishes is a similar tasting dish but with bamboo shoot (the kind at most grocery stores in the small cans). the taste is similar, so i tried your proportions on the cucumber marinade, using only 2T of rice vinegar because it seemed to taste more of sesame and slightly less of sour or vinegary. also, I added a fair bit of ichimi togarashi (the fine red pepper shake). RESULT: i would decrease the vinegar to only 1T, but otherwise, this is very good. Try it! Would love to know what you think.

        • Thanks Chris, very interesting. I actually love bamboo shoots! I will try your recommendation, I really enjoy tweaking and tinkering with recipes, even ones I love, I do that often.

  • These were really delicious, thank you for recreating the recipe. I added some fresh cilantro at the end before serving, and may try flavoring the oil next time by first sizzling Sichuan peppercorns in it before combining it with the rest of the marinade ingredients. But I made your recipe exactly as written (except for the added cilantro) and it was fantastic. I can see this becoming a permanent fixture in my frig. Thanks so much!

    • Thank you Jean for the lovely comment. I am thrilled you liked the recipe and love that you are making it your own–good for you! I was at din Tai Fung for Mother’s Day and we ordered several sounds of cucumbers because I truly love them.

  • As a long time fan of Din Tai Fung, I was excited to see your take on the chilled cucumber salad, which is a staple of our orders there. I am not a chef out accomplished cook by any means, but I enjoy cooking and enjoy trying to make new things. Last night, I had some friends over for a “Din Todd Fung” night. I made Shanghai rice cakes, steamed some dumplings (not homemade, but still), and I tried this recipe for the first time. Wow, they were delicious! A big hit as well. I thought we would have some leftovers considering all the other food, but these went quickly. Just wanted to say “thank you”, and let you know that we thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to trying some of the other recipes here! Todd

    • Thank you Todd, how lovely of you to reach out and share this with me! I absolutely love the idea of a Din Tai Fung night, I may need to have one myself! My boys were just there yesterday and have challenged me to recreate another one of their recipes so stay tuned.

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