All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Kyuri to kosai no nanpura-ae / cucumber and cilantro in nam pla dressing

A spicy and refreshing relish-like dish. Let the sugar work for you to reduce the amount of salty nam pla...

1/2 of recipe:
16 calories; 1.0 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 4.1 g carbohydrate; 3.2 g net carbs; 78 mg sodium (with 2/3 tsp nam pla; 116 mg sodium with 1 tsp nam pla); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.9 g fiber


1 kyuri Japanese cucumber (156 g in photo)
1 serrano pepper
1/2 fresno pepper
Small handful cilantro (10 g in photo)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 lime
2/3-1 tsp nam pla fish sauce


Cut off both ends of cucumber, and skin in a stripe pattern.
Hit and half-crush cucumber with rolling pin or pestle.
Cut cucumber into 2-3 cm.


Place cucumber in a prep bowl, sprinkle brown sugar, gently mix, and let sit for 10 minutes or so.


Meanwhile, finely chop fresno pepper.
Grate serrano pepper (first remove seeds if you do not like very spicy food).
Discard tougher stems of cilantro, and roughly chop.


Discard liquid pooled at bottom of cucumber prep bowl.


Add fresno and serano pepper, squeeze in lime juice, add nam pla, and mix well.

Add cilantro, and mix well.
Ready to serve.

  • Sugar, just like salt, draws out water from ingredients. First adding sugar to extract some water from cucumber eliminates the need to add more seasoning to achieve desired saltiness at the end.
  • Serrano pepper is a substitute for little Thai peppers.
  • Serrano pepper can be crushed in mortar.
  • If lime is not available, lemon works fine. To me, lime has a sharper taste and aroma, which seems to work better to reduce the amount of nam pla needed (lemon tastes softer, and I would want to add more nam pla with lemon).
  • The fresno pepper above is mainly to add color. If not available, small cherry tomatoes (halved or quartered) or red onion (finely chopped) work great for both color and taste. Toasted peanuts are good addition, too.
  • If you are serving this after some time, cut back on nam pla or add it immediately before serving, in order not to make cucumber overly salty.
  • Actual sodium intake is lower than the above figure, as some dressing would be left in the prep and serving bowls.
  • Sodium content of fish sauce varies significantly (approximately 700 mg-1,800 mg/tbsp for those available in the US). The above recipe is made with a Thai fish sauce that contains 690 mg sodium per tablespoon.

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