Cucumbers In Vinegar and/or Sour Cream
I'm looking for a recipe from my youth, made by a Polish lady who didn't speak English. She made two varieties, one with vinegar and onions, the other with sour cream and onions.
I've tried to replicate her version but haven't been successful. Her vinegar version was tangy, slightly sweet/sour and her sour cream version was sour/tangy/peppery. The cucumbers remained firm and crispy in both versions. I just can't seem to find the balance.
I'm not Polish but I my grandmother originated from that European region (south of the Ukraine) and she taught me several cucumber salad recipes that are very similar to what you describe. While researching you post I found a creamy cucumber salad and a spring onion salad that might be what you're looking for.
Coming from an Eastern Euro background we also did both, so maybe my observations will help.
Vinegar style: slice peeled cukes & onions on mandoline (or unpeeled if English/Japanes or Kirby). Sprinkle lightly with salt and let sit out covered until a lot of liquid leaches out. Pour off most of the liquid, sprinkle generously with sugar and add plain white vinegar to cover half way. Refrigerate. After a while the cukes will give up more liquid so eventually they will be covered. If not, add a little more vinegar.
Sour cream style: Same method as above to the point where you have poured off most of the liquid and sprinkled with sugar. Then add just enough vinegar to thoroughly moisten, and stir in sour cream add black pepper to taste. Let sit in fridge a while, stir up, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with dusting of paprika.
We live on this in the summer. My mother, of Polish-Jewish extraction made it when I was a child.
Thinly slice (on a mandoline, if possible) 2 English cucumbers, salt liberally and set in a colander. Slice - thin, again - one medium yellow onion. When cucumber is wilted, drain and rinse off the salt. Mix 3/4 cup white vinegar, 3/4 water and 1-2 tbs. of sugar, to taste. (I use 1 packet of Splenda when being good!) Combine all ingredients together and add some snipped dill - 1 tsp. or so, and some ground pepper. VERY refreshing on hot days.
My mother-in-law does the onion-cuc in vinegar salad constantly. She peels the cucumbers and slices them into 1/8" slices (use a mandoline to help with this if necessary). She salts the slices and lets the moisture leach out; drains them and then throws 2-3 TBS of sugar atop the cucumbers. She adds Italian red onions slices (also thinly sliced) and covers everything with vinegar. She refrigerates it for several hours, minimum 4 (sometimes over-night). She switches off between red wine or distilled vinegars, depending on how much zing she wants to taste. I've dropped the sugar step and like using rice vinegar with positive results.