Smacked cucumber salad is extremely flavourful and a great make-ahead dish. The flavour only gets better as the cucumbers absorb the dressing. I first shared this smacked cucumber salad recipe in my Vegan Chinese Cookbook.
Smacking the cucumber with the side of the knife breaks down its fibres and helps it soak up the garlicky spicy-sour dressing. This bold and refreshing salad will surely whet your appetite. If you love cucumbers, also check out my Cucumber Wakame Salad and Fermented Cucumber Pickles.
Best Chinese Cucumber Salad
This smacked cucumber salad is a well-known Chinese cucumber salad. I will go out on a limb and say that this dish is the most popular cold appetizer dish on Chinese tables, both at restaurants and at home.
Make-Ahead Cucumber Salad
This is a salad you can make a few hours ahead of time for dinner parties, barbecues, potlucks, and picnics. The flavour only gets better as the cucumbers absorb the dressing. Make sure to keep the salad chilled in the meantime.
Sichuan Chili Oil
This is a staple ingredient in Sichuan cuisine and in many spicy dishes. There are a variety of chili oil products incorporating different flavours in Chinese supermarkets. A basic chili oil that consists of oil, chili powder, chili flakes, and (often) sesame seeds is the most versatile for cooking the dishes in the Vegan Chinese Cookbook, including this smacked cucumber salad. If you want a wider variety of flavours, try Lao Gan Ma brand, which has great products. Or you can make your own basic and versatile Sichuan Chili Oil (page 110). The chilies will settle in the bottom of the jar. In this recipe, the sediment is used along with the oil – simply stir up the oil and chilies with a spoon and take out the desired amount.
Vegan Smacked Cucumber Salad
This classic Chinese cucumber salad is naturally vegan. You can find the recipe in chapter 2, “Salads and Cold Appetizers”, of my Vegan Chinese Cookbook. Whether you eat an omnivorous or plant-based diet, this smacked cucumber salad is a great side dish.
More Plant-Based Favourites from Vegan Chinese Cookbook:
- Vegan Mapo Tofu
- Chinese Eggplant Recipe: Red-Braised Eggplants
- Chinese Scallion Pancakes (葱油饼)
- Mung Bean Cakes (Gluten-Free, Vegan, 3 Ingredients)
- Vegan Fried Rice with Cumin and Potato
- Eight Treasure Congee (八宝粥)
Smacked Cucumber Salad
- Trim the ends off the cucumbers and lay them on a cutting board. Smack the cucumbers firmly with the flat side of a chef's knife, working from one end of the cucumber to the other, until the cucumbers crack. Split the smacked cucumbers in half lengthwise. Lay each half flat-side up. Cut the cucumbers diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick, 2-inch-long slices.
- In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber and salt together until thoroughly combined and let them rest for 20 minutes.
- Squeeze out as much juice as possible from the cucumber (discard the cucumber juice). Transfer the cucumber to a clean medium bowl.
- Add the garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, chili oil, and cilantro to the bowl. Mix everything together.
- For the best flavour, refrigerate the salad until you serve it.
- This is a salad you can make a few hours ahead of time for dinner parties, barbecues, potlucks, and picnics. The flavour only gets better as the cucumbers absorb the dressing. Make sure to keep the salad chilled in the meantime.