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 lengthwise, 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
- 5 Persian cucumbers (see note)
- 1/2-1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Slice ends off cucumbers and then smash them until they break like the video above. Cut the cucumbers into thirds. Then slice into bite-sized pieces approximately 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long.
- Add 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.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.