Smashed Chinese Cucumber Salad

A dish that involves smashing has got to be fun right? Smashed Cucumber Salad is a simple, flavorful, cold marinated Chinese-style cucumber salad (拍黄瓜, pai huang gua) that uses a knife smashing technique to cut the cucumbers. The refreshing dish comes together in about 5 minutes and is extremely addictive.

Cucumbers are smashed (technically smacked is a closer literal translation, but the English name of the dish seems to be set with “smashed”) with the flat side of a cleaver (preferred tool) or a large knife until they begin to split apart (I’ve included a short video clip of the technique). This releases the water and softer inner lining, and preserves the crunchy parts of the cucumber. The ragged edges are ideal for soaking up the marinade ingredients. Each bite produces such a satisfying crunch.

I’ve shared several versions of my cucumber salad over the years. After my last post earlier this year, my mom chided me for not using the proper smashing technique. I’ve mainly stayed away from it because the dish looks much more messy and uneven. But after tasting a smashed cucumber salad a few weeks ago, I was reminded by how much better the cucumbers are when they are smashed instead of cut, so I wanted to share it.

Here’s a short video of how the smashing works. It’s a great stress reliever too!

(Note: if you’re holding down the cucumber and using a heavy cleaver, you shouldn’t have to smack it as many times. I was having trouble filming without blocking so I chose to not hold down the cucumber, so it rolled around a bit, thus requiring several more smacks with the knife before it broke. My mom called me after watching this video and suggested a better technique is to divide the cucumber into fourths length-wise, then gently smack each one until it begins to split, and then break off into bite sizes pieces with your hands.)

I make cucumber salad a lot because it is so easy and so addictive. It’s one of those dishes that no matter how much I make, the entire dish will always get completely devoured. It doesn’t matter if I use 2, 4, or 10 cucumbers. There is never any leftovers. The garlic, sesame oil and pepper flakes are such simple ingredients, but they make this dish so tasty.

While everyone seems to be in the Fall mindset, here in San Diego, September tends to be the hottest month of the year and we’ve had some sweltering heat the last few weeks, so this easy no-cook salad had been the perfect answer to the extremely warm weather.

Smashed Cucumber Salad

A Chinese-style cold marinated cucumber salad that is flavorful, simple and very addictive.


  • 5 Persian cucumbers (it's best to use Persian because they are crisper; if Persian isn't available then I use Kirby ones)
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes


1. Slice ends off cucumbers and then smash them until they break like video above. Cut the cucumbers into thirds. Then slice into bite sized pieces approximately 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long.
2. Add in all the remaining ingredients and mix until cucumbers are evenly coated in seasonings. Taste and adjust as needed. You can eat right away or let the cucumbers sit in the fridge to further develop the flavors.

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

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12 comments on “Smashed Chinese Cucumber Salad”

  1. Leave it to Mom, Kirbie. I also read that post and noticed you hadn’t “smacked” the cucumbers! ;o) At least your mom lets you use the chef’s knife…..the Missus insists that a heavy cleaver is the only device worthy!

  2. OMG I love this stuff!!!

  3. I found a great spicy Asian cucumber salad recipe in FoodNetwork Magazine this Summer that everyone loves. A few more ingredients than yours but what I did with it was make flash pickles using a marinating container with my vacuum sealer.  It’s been been a real hit and I’ve made it 4 times already.  

    • thanks for the rec! I’ll have to try it out. I used to make my cucumber salad with a few more ingredients, but I recently started making it with less after seeing my mom do so and found it still tasted really good

  4. I have to try making this! I love how simple the recipe is!  OMG, you smacked that cucumber so many times! 🙂

    • Lol! it kept moving since I wasn’t holding it steady. Normally it only needs a few smacks. I was having trouble filming it and holding it without blocking the camera shot. I had fun though. haha!

  5. Fantastic recipe, tasted amazing and was a blast to smash the cucumbers! In perth, Western Australia I substituted Lebanese cucumbers as we don’t get your kind here. I also added jalapeños!  Thanks so much for sharing this recipe:-)

  6. It is more genuine if adding a little thinned sesame paste (1/20 of the cucumber in weight or as much as you like) and mix well.

    To thin sesame paste, take original sesame paste to a bowl, add water of 1/5 of sesame weight then mix well, add water and mix again, repeat this procedure until the sesame become as thin as salad dressing.
    Instead sesame paste, adding very little sesame oil (3~5g) and mix well can also make this salad more tastefull.

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