This is not only one of our favorite comfort foods that we make frequently, but also one of the most popular cold dishes in China. It could be either served as an appetizer or a side dish. The kids LOVE it! My son even spoons the sauce over rice after finishing the cucumbers. This salad is light and refreshing, and very easy to make. By the way, the cucumbers must be smashed. I know, that sounds odd. But this trick really helps the cucumbers quickly absorb the flavors from the dressing and makes it super flavorful!
Choosing the Cucumbers
In most asian markets, look for Persian cucumbers. It is extra crunchy and has soft tiny seeds. Costco sometimes carries them. If you can’t find it at your local stores, English cucumbers work fine. When choosing the cucumbers, it has to be fresh. If you see wrinkles or too much moisture on the skins, that means it’s too old. After smashing the cucumbers, marinate it with salt for 10-15 minutes. This helps extract extra juice from the cucumber and adds flavor to it.
For the dressing, some people don’t like the strong taste of raw garlic, like Andy. So I usually pan fry it quickly with oil until the garlic turns slightly brown. This is to reduce the raw taste and add extra fragrance to the dressing.
Black Rice Vinegar
You can find this black rice vinegar in any Chinese markets. It’s commonly used in Chinese cooking. I mostly use it for cold dishes and dipping sauces for dumplings. I used one of the brands below in the picture for this recipe.