I’m always on the hunt for exciting veggie dishes, and this Asian-inspired smashed cucumber salad is my new go-to. Cucumbers are the perfect blank canvas for marinating, and this dressing is light, refreshing and just a little spicy with the addition of chili flakes or oil.
This salad should be required cooking after a frustrating day of work. To smash a cucumber, you can technically place the flat side of a large knife along the top of a cucumber, and press the side of your fist into the knife to smash (a la smashing garlic). But that’s no fun.
The easier – and more cathartic – method is to whack the cucumber with the flat side of the knife until it separates. I whacked, pulled apart, and whacked some more. I’d say don’t try this at home, but it was surprisingly meditative.
Smashed Asian Cucumber Salad
This Asian-inspired smashed cucumber salad is light, refreshing and slightly spicy with the addition of chili flakes or oil. It comes together in 10 minutes, and the process of smashing cucumbers is surprisingly cathartic after a long day of work. No judgements here.
- 2 large cucumbers
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp ginger paste or freshly ground ginger
- 2 tsp sugar
- kosher salt (optional)
- handful cilantro, chopped
- pinch chili flakes, or hot chili oil
Wash and dry the cucumbers. To smash the cucumber, remove the ends, and place on a cutting board. Place the flat side of a large knife along the top of the cucumber, make a fist, and tap (forcefully!) along the flat side of the knife - as if you were smashing garlic. If you tap hard enough, the cucumber should start to separate into four quadrants. Smash both cucumbers, and break apart into bite sized, smashed cucumber pieces. Set aside in a bowl.
Make the dressing by mixing the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and ginger in a small bowl. Whisk in the sugar, and stir until dissolved. Take a taste, and adjust (I added a pinch of salt at this stage).
Pour the dressing over the cucumbers to marinate. Add some chopped cilantro and a pinch of crushed red pepper. They will be good to eat right away, but better if you let them sit for a little bit of time.
When you're ready to serve, top with fresh cilantro and a bit more crushed red pepper to liven it up.