The perfect accompaniment to Thai Chicken Satay is quick pickled cucumbers. They offer a crunchy, tangy balance to savory chicken and peanut sauce.
When I’m in the middle of making dinner and need a quick side dish, quick-pickled cucumbers are my go-to. I chop up some cucumbers, toss them with a pinch of salt and sugar and a splash of vinegar and let them sit in the fridge until dinner. Even after 20 minutes they get all that delicious pickle flavor and my family absolutely devours them.
The quick pickles you see here are a bit more classic - covered in a vinegar-sugar-salt mixture and left in the fridge for anywhere from an hour to a week. They have a mild flavor with just the right amount of sour and sweet flavor. They are delicious eaten straight out of the jar (which is often how most of them disappear around here). Even though I’m pitching this recipe to you as the perfect thing to serve on the side of Thai chicken satay (which it is), homemade quick pickled cucumbers fit in as a side dish with just about any meal.
What are Quick Pickles?
Quick pickles are vegetables that are soaked in a mixture of water, vinegar, salt, and sometimes sugar. The vinegar quickly gives the vegetables a tart flavor so they are ready to use almost immediately, as opposed to traditional pickles which develop flavor over several weeks.
Customize Your Pickles
One of the best things about making your own quick pickles is that you can adjust the flavor. Like them a bit more sweet? Add sugar. Like them more tart? Reduce the water and increase the vinegar. Want even more flavor? Add ingredients! See below for some ideas.
Ingredients That Add Flavor to Pickles
- Herbs (fresh or dried)
- Spicy Chili Peppers
- Citrus Zest / Peel
- Whole Spices (mustard seed is classic)
Thai Recipes to Serve with Pickles
- Thai Chicken Satay
- Thai Minced Chicken Salad (Laab / Larb Gai)
- Thai-Style Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang)
- How to Make Sticky Rice (Stovetop or Instant Pot)
Thai-Style Quick Pickled Cucumbers
- 1 ½ cups Water
- ¼ cup Sugar
- ⅓ cup White Vinegar
- 1 cup halved and thinly sliced Cucumber (look for a seedless cucumber)
- ¼ cup thinly sliced Shallots
- 1-4 Thai Red Chilis, thinly sliced (sub ¼ red bell pepper; see note)
- Heat water and ¼ cup sugar in the microwave or on the stovetop just until sugar dissolves (it should be warm but not hot to the touch).
- Stir in vinegar, cucumbers, shallots, and chilis.
- Let cool completely in the refrigerator before serving. Refrigerate for up to one week.