Get set to indulge in the vibrant flavors of this Chinese cucumber salad in just 15 minutes! With crisp cucumbers, zesty accents, and an irresistible Asian twist, this dish brings a burst of refreshment and crunch to your table!
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If you’re lucky enough to be growing a garden full of glorious fruits and vegetables, you may encounter cucumbers in absolute abundance. This smashed cucumber salad recipe from the Eat Plants Every Day Cookbook is a fabulous fix for any surplus.
All you need is a fresh cucumber, a little kosher salt, and a darn good dressing. In just about 15 minutes, you’ll have a light, luscious, and fantastically fragrant salad with the option to share with others (only if you want to). Even though this cooling concoction can serve two people, you may find yourself motivated to make more.
Grab your gardening gloves, cut off a few cucumbers, and let’s get mixin’ your salad fixins’!
Did you know that instead of grabbing an ice-cold coffee or a succulent scoop of ice cream, people of Asian descent (especially the Chinese) will often choose a cool, crisp cucumber instead? The season of summer calls for a cooling element for the body, and, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, cucumbers not only help to reduce blood pressure but help to cleanse and detox the body and blood.
So, if you’re ever near the Great Wall of China on a super hot sunny day, don’t be surprised if you see people snacking on tiny cucumbers or enjoying a fresh cucumber salad with sesame seeds.
Why Are Cucumbers So Cooling?
This fresh and fabulous fruit (yes, it’s actually a fruit!) is made up of 95% water! The more water we take into our bodies, the easier it is to stay hydrated and have the ability to cool down when we’re too warm.
The key components of this Chinese cucumber salad recipe form a symphony of flavors, each playing its unique role in composing a melody of taste and texture! Don’t worry, you only need simple ingredients to create this ensemble:
Cucumber: The star of the dish, the cucumber provides a refreshing crunch and a mild watery base that balances the flavors. Japanese or English cucumbers are often preferred for their tender skin and few seeds.
Seasoned Rice Vinegar: Adds a delicate tangy sweetness to the salad. Its well-balanced flavor complements the cucumbers while adding a subtle acidity.
Toasted Sesame Oil: Contributes a rich, nutty aroma and depth of flavor to the salad. It enhances the overall taste profile!
Fresh Cilantro: Fresh cilantro lends a burst of vibrant herbaceousness and a hint of citrusy fragrance to this cucumber salad.
Sugar: It may be an odd addition to a salad, but we don’t recommend skipping sugar! It harmonizes with the tangy notes and savory elements to round out all of the flavors! Liquid sweeteners like maple or agave syrup also work well.
Minced Garlic: This super food balances out the sweetness of the vinegar and sugar with a savory kick, adding depth of flavor.
If you found this salad to be a little too salty, make sure to rinse the salt out of the cucumber before adding the sauce. The salt helps to remove excess moisture from the cucumbers so that they stay crisp.
Turn it into a spicy Asian cucumber salad by adding chopped jalapeño, crushed red pepper flakes or a touch of hot sauce.
While this salad can be served right away, it’s best to let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld and intensify.
How to Serve Up This Chinese Cucumber Salad Recipe
You may imagine that cucumbers might be too boring or naturally too neutral to incite your interest. But, you couldn’t be more mistaken! These two traits make this garden fresh food perfect for use in practically any dish, like these:
Salad Topper – Double salad? Heck, yeah! When you’ve run out of ideas for topping your salad, just add this mixture onto a bowl full of brilliant greens, and you’re good to go! The veggies and dressing are already done for you.
Pop Into a Pocket – Don’t you love having a new filling for a pita pocket? It’s so exciting to insert spoonfuls of sweet or savory sandwich stuff inside. Add a few extra lettuce leaves and a little avocado for a refreshing lunch.
This Chinese cucumber salad is best eaten fresh, but any leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for the next day. After that, it’s best to make a new batch. Not recommended for freezing.
If you’d like to prep this dish beforehand, you can do so the day (or night) before. Smash your cucumber and slice. Place in one container. Mix up the dressing and place in another container. Cover both and refrigerate until the next day. Mix your cucumber with the salt and let sit. Then, drain and mix with the sauce.
Fun Facts About Cucumbers
Though we’re not sure how many of these are actually tried and true (probably very few), it would be fun to experiment and see which ones are successful. Let us know if you do try any!
Perky Pen Eraser – Use the outside of the waxy cucumber skin to remove any pen mistakes.
Foggy Mirror Fix – A cucumber slice wiped onto foggy mirrors is supposed to clear away any condensation and also provide a lovely spa-like scent.
Breath Mint Maneuver – If you’re out of breath mints and have a horrible taste in your mouth, place a slice of fresh cucumber on the roof of your mouth. Hold there for 30 seconds. The phytochemicals in the cucumber are supposed to kill the bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath.
Engage the Energy – Instead of an energy drink, eat a cucumber. They’re high in B vitamins, carbohydrates, and water that provide the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!
This smashed cucumber salad is not only lovely and crisp, but also incredibly fresh and flavorful. In just a few minutes, you can create a surprisingly satisfying side with notes of smooth sesame and cilantro. Perfect recipe for your garden cucumbers!
Place the cucumber on a cutting board, and using the back of a large chef’s knife or a rolling pin, gently “smash” it. You’re not trying to flatten it. You simply want to crack it open so that outside tears.
Cut the smashed cucumber into 1-inch long pieces.
Transfer the pieces to a bowl, season with the salt, and let sit for 10 minutes. (This step is the key to big flavor!)
Drain off any liquid from the bowl.
Add the vinegar, oil, cilantro, garlic, sugar, and sesame seeds. Toss lightly to mix evenly and serve.
If you cannot find a Japanese or English cucumber, choose any cucumber with a thin skin or peel a common slicing cucumber.
If you cannot find seasoned rice vinegar, dissolve ¼ teaspoon of organic sugar and a pinch of kosher salt in one tablespoon of regular rice vinegar.
Keyword asian salad, cucumber salad recipe, smashed cucumber recipe
If you try this Smashed Cucumber Salad recipe, let us know what you think by leaving a comment and rating below! Be sure to follow along on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for even more vegan recipe inspiration.
About The Cookbook
Husband and wife team, Blair and Carolyn Warsham, pair up to bring us a 176-page cookbook packed with plant-based goodness. The Warsham family is no stranger to culinary talent and success with Blair as an acclaimed chef and Carolyn as a writer, editor, and full-time vegetarian. This family-friendly collection of vegan recipes is sure to please anyone new to plant-based eating.
Many thanks to our recipes testers Annie Sparks, Aston Martin, Maria Estella, Lexia Cicone, and Daniela Matta for helping perfect this recipe!
Whether you love it or hate it, we all have to go grocery shopping, and it can be a little intimidating when you first start eating vegan. Our beginner-friendly shopping list includes all the grocery essentials you'll need make many satisfying vegan meals! You'll also receive a blank shopping list you can customize yourself, plus our weekly e-newsletter with delicious plant-based recipes.