I’ve been totally obsessed with the salty-sweet-spicy flavor combo lately. Ever since I fell victim to a Facebook ad selling some chili-coated sour patch kids (yes, they were awesome). So I was totally delighted when I decided to throw together the gochujang in the back of my fridge with some pineapple from my freezer, and a fresh cucumber, and it tasted exactly like the chili gummies! But like, with actual fruit and vegetables instead of candy. Haha! Needless to say, this Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad is a HIT.
What is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a centuries-old Korean chili paste made with chili peppers, rice, soybeans, and salt (check this article for a really extensive history and detail of this awesome sauce). It has a salty-spicy-umami flavor that kind of reminds me of a spicy version of miso. The flavor profile is so unique and so delicious, and I couldn’t be happier about the fact that it’s really trending in the U.S. right now because that means it’s fairly easy to find in major grocery stores. My local Kroger store has about five or six different brands on the shelf!
P.S. Gochujang stays good in the fridge for a really long time, so don’t worry about needing to use up the whole container right away. Here are some other recipes I’ve made using gochujang, if you need some inspiration.
Fresh or Frozen Pineapple?
I used frozen pineapple this time around because I had it on hand, but fresh would work just as well. Canned pineapple (in juice, NOT syrup) might work in a pinch, but it tends to be a lot sweeter and not quite as bright in flavor as fresh or frozen, so it’s definitely not my first choice for this recipe.
This particular flavor combination has a lot of flexibility, so I think there is a lot of room for substitution. Here are some ideas:
- Pineapple: You can use mango, cantaloupe, or even watermelon in place of the pineapple.
- Cilantro: If you can’t do cilantro, you can either leave it out or try adding some green onion for a little fresh kick.
- Gochujang: If you can’t find gochujang, Tajín seasoning actually makes a really good substitute. It has a really similar salty-spicy flavor profile. It is a powder instead of a paste, but will mix into the dressing all the same. Use about 1 tsp Tajín and add more to your liking.
What to Serve with Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad
Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad
- 1 cucumber (3 cups chopped) ($1.25)
- 1/2 lb. frozen pineapple chunks (2 cups) ($2.46)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro ($0.20)
- 1.5 tsp gochujang ($0.12)
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar ($0.37)
- 1 Tbsp sugar ($0.01)
- Thaw the pineapple chunks and chop the cucumber into pieces roughly the same size as the pineapple chunks. Roughly chop the cilantro.
- Prepare the dressing by whisking together the gochujang, rice vinegar, and sugar until dissolved.
- Combine the cucumber, pineapple, cilantro, and dressing in a bowl. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. Stir the salad just before eating to redistribute the dressing.
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How to Make Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad – Step by Step Photos
Thaw ½ lb. (about 2 cups) pineapple chunks. Chop one cucumber (about 3 cups) into pieces roughly the same size as the pineapple. Roughly chop about ½ cup cilantro. Place the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in a bowl.
In a bowl, stir together 1.5 tsp gochujang, 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, and 1 Tbsp sugar until everything is dissolved.
Pour that “awesome sauce” over the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in the bowl, then give it a good stir.
You can either eat your salad immediately or let it marinate for a while. The salad will stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days, but the fruit and vegetables will get softer the longer they marinate. Make sure to give it a good stir each time just before serving to redistribute the dressing!