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Food10 Minute Spicy Asian Zucchini

10 Minute Spicy Asian Zucchini

We love to make this Spicy Asian Zucchini in the summer when zucchinis are cheap and plentiful! This 10 minute side dish is made with a very simple soy-based sauce that brings the heat. Pair it with ramen, rice or noodle bowls, or Asian Marinated Chicken!

Asian Zucchini- A Super Easy Side Dish

Asian zucchini spears topped with sesame seeds and green onion on a cast iron platter.

I firmly believe there is a direct correlation between the amount of zucchini we have available to us and how excited I am to use it.

At the beginning of the season when the first small zucchinis show up in our gardens or at the farm market, it’s a thrill.

We make our first lemon zucchini bread, toss it into an egg scramble, and maybe even stuff them in a roasted veggie sandwich.

But then they keep coming. They grow in both size and number, and by mid-season, when the zucchinis are taking over our gardens and our countertops, we’re sick of them. We think if one more baseball-bat-sized zucchini dares show up at our house, we’ll just have to pack up and let the zucchinis have the place.

It’s when you’re in that place of sheer desperation that this Asian zucchini recipe comes in handy. It’s super simple (as in 5 ingredients and 10 minutes prep time), it uses a couple of those abundant zucchinis, and it’s a welcome departure from the more traditional sauteed zucchini or zucchini cake.

With an easy honey soy sauce, this zucchini has a punch of spicy heat with just a touch of sweetness. I find it perfectly snackable, and have been known to eat the leftovers cold straight out of the fridge.

Spicy zucchini spears with a soy and sriracha sauce.

Ingredients + Substitutions

  • Sesame oil– You can find pure sesame oil in the ethnic or Asian food aisles of most local grocery stores. We love sesame oil’s toasted, nutty flavor, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute a neutral cooking oil, like canola.
  • Zucchini, of course! Zucchinis vary so much in size it’s difficult to say exactly how many you’ll want to use for this recipe. Luckily, it can be easily adjusted based on what you have. The sauce makes enough to cover two large (12 inches or so) zucchinis, but you can use one very large or two small zucchinis as well. Use less sauce if you have a smaller amount of zucchini. You can also mix in other kinds of summer squash.
  • Soy sauce– I use a low sodium soy sauce, but you can also use tamari for a gluten free option.
  • Sriracha– Here’s where we’ll get that tingly heat! I use quite a bit, but feel free to lower the amount to suit your taste buds.
  • Honey– A touch of honey balances the heat of the sriracha and the intensity of the soy sauce.
  • Garlic– Our original recipe didn’t call for any garlic, but we like to add it most of the time now. Feel free to omit it if you prefer or if you just don’t have time to chop any garlic (happens to us, too!). 
  • Garnish– Toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions add a little burst of freshness and texture to the finished dish.
Two zucchinis alongside bowls of sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, sesame seeds, and green onions.

How to Make Spicy Asian Zucchini

Step 1: Whisk together the soy sauce, sriracha, and honey and set aside.

Soy sauce, sriracha, and honey stirred together in a measuring cup.

Step 2: Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the zucchini, spreading it out evenly over the pan without overlapping. Allow to cook 2-3 minutes, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden brown, then flip. Cook another 2 minutes or so, or until both sides are brown.

Step 3: Pour the sauce into the skillet (I usually start with half the sauce, then add more to coat as needed) and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Zucchini sauteed with soy and Sriracha sauce.

Step 4: Plate the zucchini and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and green onions, then serve.

Freshly sauteed zucchini spears with Asian sauce.

Tips for Sauteing Zucchini

Zucchini is a quick cooking vegetable that can quickly turn mushy. Some folks might like it extra soft, but we prefer our zucchini to have a little bite left to it. Here are our tricks for getting perfect sauteed zucchini:

  1. Cut thicker slices. Whether you’re doing zucchini spears, like we’ve pictured here, or zucchini slices, chopping them thicker allows you to sear them on the outside without turning to mush in the middle.
  2. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Give the zucchini some room to breathe so it sears instead of steaming. The slices can be touching, but shouldn’t be stacked on top of each other in the pan. If you have too much zucchini to fit, saute it in batches.
  3. Use medium high heat. Higher heat allows the zucchini to get a nice golden brown exterior quickly, without overcooking the zucchini.
Cut zucchini spears on a wooden cutting board.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions

You can whip up the sauce any time and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use. The zucchini can also be chopped up to 24 hours in advance. Store, covered, in the fridge.

Leftover Asian zucchini should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and eaten within 5 days. I love to eat it cold or reheat it on the stove top for a few minutes.

Spicy chinese zucchini with sriracha on a cast iron platter.

What to Serve with Asian Zucchini

This dish pairs perfectly with our Asian Chicken Marinade, Asian Sesame Beef, and Hibachi Steak.

It’s also a great addition to rice and noodle bowls. Add it to our Tuna Sushi Bowls or Hibachi Fried Rice.

For a super simple dinner, we love to make some store bought ramen and pair it with the Chinese zucchini, a soft boiled egg, and whatever sauce we have leftover.

Spicy chinese zucchini with sriracha on a cast iron platter.
  • Sesame oil (to coat)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (or sub tamari for gluten free option)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced, (optional))
  • 2 Tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 1 large or two medium zucchini (cut into 1/2 inch thick spears)
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, sriracha, honey, and garlic, if using. Set aside.

  • Heat a large non stick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat, and add enough sesame oil to coat. Add the zucchini in a single layer. (You may have to saute them in batches depending on the size of your skillet and how much zucchini you have). Saute, undisturbed, until the zucchini is browned on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, about another 2 minutes.

  • Pour half of the sauce over the zucchini and toss for about a minute, adding the remaining sauce if needed. You want to have enough to fully coat all of the zucchini. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve.

  • Feel free to adjust the sriracha to your own tastes. This dish will have quite a bit of heat as written.
  • We enjoy these leftovers cold or reheated in a skillet for a few minutes.
  • To avoid mushy zucchini, use medium high heat and cook until just browned. Don’t cook the zucchini long in the sauce.
Keyword asian zucchini, sauteed zucchini

Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 507mg | Potassium: 347mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 262IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

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