I’ve been intrigued by salads using smashed cucumbers for a while and one night, desperate for an Asian-inspired side dish, it seemed like the perfect time to smash an innocent cucumber. This serves 4 as a side dish:
Smashed Cucumber Salad
- 2 seedless cucumbers (about 1-1 ½ pounds)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 teaspoons chili crisp
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- a small handful of chopped cilantro
Wash the cucumbers and peel them if that’s your preference. Make the salad dressing by combining the salt, sugar, sesame oil, light soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Set aside.
On a cutting board, lay a large knife flat against the cucumber, and smash it lightly with your other hand. The cucumber should crack open and smash into four sections. Repeat along its full length. Once the whole cucumber is completely open (usually into 4 long sectional pieces), cut it at a 45-degree angle into bite-sized pieces.
In a large bowl, mix the cut cucumber with the prepared dressing, garlic and chili crisp, and toss it well. Serve, garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro, and enjoy!
Sometimes you start something and discover key ingredients you need are missing. That was the case here. I used a regular CSA-issued cucumber and peeled it before smashing it between 2 cutting boards. Very satisfying, but cucumber seeds everywhere (might be why the original recipe called for seedless cukes, but mine ended up that way). If you use regular cucumbers, you might try smashing them in the sink, or as a friend suggested in a large Ziploc bag.
We were also out of sesame oil, so I substituted vegetable oil with a little oil from the chili crisp.
For all that, this was one of those salads that you start eating and only stop when the bowl is empty. I really enjoyed it and look forward to trying it when we get some more sesame oil.