This quick and flavorful Chinese side dish is made with cucumbers which are lightly smashed then tossed with vinegar, sesame oil, salt and a pinch of sugar.
During a recent visit to NYC, I was reintroduced to one of my favorite Asian side dishes: Chinese smashed cucumbers. Similar to a quick pickle, cucumbers are tossed in a sweet, salty, sour and spicy mixture of sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and chili flakes.
How To Smash the Cucumbers:
To smash them, simply use the backside (the dull side) of a chef’s knife to gently pound the cucumbers.
What is the History of Smashed Cucumbers?
In Chinese cooking and other types of Asian cuisine, cucumbers and pickles are used to counter-balance spicy foods. The sweet and tangy flavors paired with the cold, crisp cucumbers are the ideal way to offset hot and spicy foods often found in Asian cuisine,
For added flavor, smokiness and healthy fats, I drizzle in a little toasted sesame oil. You can find it online, at most major grocery stores as well as ethnic markets.
How Far In Advance Should Chinese Smashed Cucumbers Be Prepared?
You can make them in just 5 minutes but the longer they sit the more flavorful they become as the cucumbers absorb the marinade. They will be good for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
What is the Best Type of Cucumber to Use?
I like to use Persian cucumbers but any seedless cucumber works such as English cucumbers.
Want to make them spicy? Add in a hefty pinch of chili flakes or Sambal Oelek. You can also leave out to keep mild.
Your chopsticks are waiting.
Chinese Smashed Cucumbers
- Using the back of a chef's knife, gently smash the cucumbers a bit. Next, cut them into bite-sized chunks.
- Place smashed cucumber pieces in a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve room temperature or chill to serve later.
Want more healthy side dish recipes? Check out my Pinterest board!