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.
Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad
- 3 Persian cucumbers
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons black rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon hot chili oil
Cut the cucumbers into big chunks. To prevent cucumbers from splashing, place them into a sandwich bag and lay it on a cutting board. Use a large knife and smash the cucumbers until they're open and broken into pieces.
Place the cucumbers In a container. Mix in 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well and set aside for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, pour out the extra juice from the cucumbers.
In a small pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and pan fry until it turns slightly brown. Mix it with cucumbers.
Add sugar, light soy sauce, black rice vinegar, sesame oil and hot chili oil. Mix well and garnish with sesame seeds.