Explosive. Zesty. Tart. Native. Caviar. Bushfood. Expressive words to describe the ever so trendy yet ancient Australian finger lime. No better partner than one that lets it shine, the humble cucumber gives crunch and freshness. No cooking required and done in 15 minutes. What a salad!
Why You’ll Love Cucumber Finger Lime Salad
Cucumber and lime are a classic combination of flavours; for me, it epitomises what a light salad should be. Tossed through with a very simple Asian inspired salad dressing, the sesame oil and soy sauce really brings out the flavours.
For this recipe, we showcase the Australian finger lime. This fruit is growing in popularity both for its flavours and its gorgeous textures.
What was once a scarce commodity and only ever available to top restaurants they are becoming more and more popular. While they are far from being easily procured, they are becoming easier to find.
They are a flavour bomb, and I couldn’t help but pair it with something that would complement them rather than overpower it. The outcome is a fresh and delightful salad.
More importantly, no cooking of any kind is required and done in 15 minutes or less! Love a good no cook salad recipe.
What is Finger Lime?
The finger lime is small and oblong in shape. It’s usually about 7 cm in length and tapers at the end. The skin is thin and slightly smooth with a leathery texture.
Finger limes come in a variety of colours such as yellow, pink, green, purple and even bright red.
The inside of the finger lime has pulp that contains juice vesicles that resemble caviar, hence also commonly dubbed caviar lime.
These vesicles are interchangeably called pearls and are small pops of dynamite! Each pearl is filled with tangy lime juice and literally pops in your mouth when the thin skin breaks.
Where Did Finger Limes Come From?
Finger lime originated from Australia and has been part of Australian indigenous lives for thousands of years. They are the fruit of a rare rainforest tree that grew in Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
A valuable source of food and medicine for the Aboriginal people, the finger lime was used not only to eat but to help fend off diseases and also used as an antiseptic for sores.
You’re probably wondering why finger limes have only recently become so popular when they have been around for thousands of years.
What once grew in the wild, large parts of the rainforests were destroyed and cleared for settlement when European colonisation happened. Thankfully, some of the trees did survive in private property and some small pockets of farmland.
What Does Finger Lime Taste like?
Like a lime! Go figure!
It’s tart, tangy, and sour with floral notes. It also has some astringency and bitterness.
Flavour/Texture: This finger lime recipe is refreshing both from the tartness of the Australian finger limes and the cooling cucumber. The onion and chilli give it some kick, while the Asian sesame soy dressing is umami and seeps into the cucumber, making them ever so flavoursome.
Crunchy from the chunks of cucumber as well as the peanuts, while delicate from the ribboned cucumber at the same time.
Ease: With no cooking involved, this is a super easy finger lime salad recipe. All you’ll be doing is cutting and peeling!
Time: 15 minutes or less will get this finger lime recipe from the kitchen bench to your dinner table.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this Cucumber Finger Lime Salad:
Cucumber: In this finger lime recipe, we used long, continental cucumbers. If you can’t get them, 3 Persian or English cucumbers will be fine too. As this is the main ingredient, make sure it’s fresh and crunchy.
Peanuts: Get unsalted roasted peanuts if possible. I find the salted variety too salty and overpowers the salad.
Red onion: Raw red or Spanish onions are best for this finger lime recipe. Gives the salad a little peppery finish.
Chilli: Wanting to add some heat to this cucumber salad, we added some red chilli. Depending on your tolerance, you can select any chilli that would suit you. Remove the seeds before dicing so it won’t be so spicy.
Finger lime: Any variety of finger lime would work. If possible, you can choose a different selection for different colours. If you get them in a punnet like I did and have plenty left over, you can also try our Scallop Sashimi Salad with Finger Lime.
Sesame oil: Sesame oil is an incredibly fragrant oil where a little goes a long way. Easy to find in supermarkets nowadays. If not, head to the Asian grocer.
Rice wine vinegar: A wonderful ingredient to use in any salad dressing, not just of the Asian variety. This vinegar is less tart and sharp which is great since the Australian finger limes are quite tart on their own.
Soy sauce: This is the epitome of umami, so adding it to the sesame oil and rice wine vinegar makes sense. This sesame soy dressing is a keeper and can be used in so many different salad recipes.
Variations and Substitutions
Red onion substitute: If you find raw red onions too strong, opt for some shallots instead. They are also smaller and easier to slice thinly.
Less heat: You can omit the red chillies if you don’t like spicy food. But if you like a tiny kick, removing the seeds does help in reducing the heat and don’t opt for the small bird’s eye chillies as they can be very spicy!
More heat: On the flip side, if you like spicy dishes, you can get chillies that are much spicier such as habaneros, jalapenos or even the Carolina Reaper!
Black sesame seed substitute: Nigella seeds are a great alternative for black sesame seeds. Also nutty in flavour, it’s a great way to use them up if you have plenty in the pantry.
Gluten free recipe: Substitute soy sauce with tamari to make this a gluten free finger lime recipe.
Peanut free option: If you have a peanut allergy, omit altogether or replace with drupes such as cashews, almonds or pistachios.
Step by step instructions for how to make Cucumber Finger Lime Salad:
How to Make Cucumber Finger Lime Salad
Cut 1 cucumber into diagonal cubes. This means making the first cut at a 45-degree angle to the right, then the next cut at a 45-degree angle to the left. Continue until the whole cucumber is cut.
For the 2nd cucumber, slice into ribbons. Using a wide Y peeler, peel the first layer of skin and discard. Then peel wide strips until you get to the seed. Then repeat on the other side.
Chop peanuts to yield ¼ cup
Roughly chop flat leaf parsley to yield 1 cup.
Slice ½ red onion thinly.
Cut the chilli open and remove the seeds. Dice finely to yield 1 tsp.
Extract the vesicles from 2 finger limes. Just cut in half and gently squeeze the ends and the vesicles will ooze out. Discard the skin.
For the other 2 finger limes, cut in half and squeeze very gently so that only some of the vesicles come out. Leave it as it is with the skin.
How to Make Sesame Soy Dressing
Add all the ingredients of the salad dressing together and mix until well combined.
How To Assemble The Salad
Mix the cucumber, peanuts, red onion, chilli, black sesame seeds and parsley into a mixing bowl. Add half the dressing and toss until well combined.
Place tossed salad onto one side of the plate.
Add droplets of dressing to the empty side of the plate and then add dollops of extracted finger lime vesicles on top.
Add the other 2 opened finger limes with the skin on, on top of the cucumber salad as a showcase of the gorgeous fruit.
Drizzle the rest of the dressing if you want more.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve finger lime recipe immediately as the cucumber will start to water.
How to Make This Salad Perfectly [Expert Tips]
Serve immediately: As the cucumber has a high water content, it’s important that you serve it straight away so it’s nice and fresh. Make it the last thing you put together before your meal commences.
Unsalted peanuts: As the soy sauce in the salad dressing is already salty, adding salted peanuts would make the entire dish too salty. To ensure the flavours are balanced, get unsalted peanuts for this finger lime recipe.
Great Mains for This Salad
What to serve with cucumber finger lime salad? Try these delicious main dish recipes:
The refreshing and tart flavours of our cucumber finger lime salad is an excellent palette cleanser for strong flavoured main dishes such as these baked chicken leg quarters and slow cooker pasta e fagioli recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Finger limes are an autumn fruit, so for us down under, they can be found around April/May. They are quite a resilient fruit and can last up to 3-4 weeks.
Due to their short season and scarcity, finger limes are not easy to find. Not only are there not many farmers growing this crop but also half of the Australian production is going overseas.
Try your farmers market or fine food grocer.
Thankfully, finger limes can withstand the freezing process so they can live in the freezer for 6 months. So, if you find them, grab a whole heap for later to make your finger lime recipe.
Yes you can eat the skin of finger lime. The skin is much thinner compared to that of the lime and resembles the skin of a kumquat.
Finger limes do not ripen once they have been harvested from the tree. So the finger limes you find in stores will be the ripest that they will ever be before they start to rot. A good finger lime should feel full and firm to the touch.
Peeling finger limes makes for messy work. To extract the finger lime vesicles, you can cut it in half width wise and then at the top end, squeeze gently and you’ll find the vesicles will come out easily.
Alternatively, you can slice the finger lime lengthwise and, using a small teaspoon, scoop out the flesh.
This salad is essentially a cucumber salad accompanied by some small add-on ingredients but elevated by the finger lime. The sesame soy dressing binds it all together to give it an Asian finish. This is so yum, you’re going to have to make an extra serve.
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Cucumber Finger Lime Salad
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- Cut 1 cucumber into diagonal cubes. This means make the first cut at a 45-degree angle to the right, then the next cut at a 45-degree angle to the left. Continue until the whole cucumber is cut.
- For the 2nd cucumber, slice into ribbons. Using a wide Y peeler, peel the first layer of skin and discard. Then peel wide strips until you get to the seed. Then repeat on the other side.
- Chop peanuts to yield ¼ cup
- Roughly chop flat leaf parsley to yield 1 cup.
- Slice ½ red onion thinly.
- Cut chilli open and remove the seeds. Dice finely to yield 1 tsp.
- Extract the vesicles from 2 finger limes. Just cut in half and gently squeeze the ends and the vesicles will ooze out. Discard the skin.
- For the other 2 finger limes, cut in half and squeeze very gently so that only some of the vesicles comes out. Leave it as it is with the skin.
- Add all the ingredients of the salad dressing together and mix until well combined.
- Mix the cucumber, peanuts, red onion, chilli, black sesame seeds and parsley into a mixing bowl. Add half the dressing and toss until well combined.
- Place tossed salad onto one side of the plate.
- Add droplets of dressing to the empty side of the plate and then add dollops of extracted vesicles on top.
- Add the other 2 opened finger limes with the skin on, on top of the cucumber salad as a showcase of the gorgeous fruit.
- Drizzle the rest of the dressing if you want more.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately as the cucumber will start to water.
- This salad should only be assembled when you’re ready to eat. Otherwise, the cucumber will water if allowed to sit too long.
- You can cut the cucumber any way you wish. Cutting it up 2 different ways is both for texture and presentation.
- You can use shallots instead of red onion.
- You can omit chilli if you don’t like the heat or vice versa if you do! Jalapenos would work well to instead of red chillies.
- You can use white instead of black sesame seeds. Nigella seeds would work well too.
- Replace soy sauce with tamari for a gluten free recipe.
- If you have a peanut allergy, omit altogether or replace with drupes such as cashews, almonds or pistachios.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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