smashed cucumber salad
A refreshingly perfect summer snack that's fun to make, especially when it's too hot to cook (or if you have an abundance of cucumbers.) This recipe originates from Sichuan and smashing them creates an amazing textural surface that is better to hold the tasty sauce. Traditionally, you can slice the cucumbers lengthwise first, and then press on them firmly with the flat side of a Chinese cleaver, but I prefer smashing them first, and then slicing, so it's more contained. ;)
2 small or 1 large cucumber (Chinese, English, or 'burpless' cucumbers are preferable)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced
1 tsp sugar or maple syrup
2 Tbsp chili oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
Drizzle of sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Use a rolling pin to smash the cucumber to split the skin and break up the flesh.
Cut in half (or quarters) lengthwise, then make diagonal cuts to make bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl or rimmed plate and sprinkle with salt, tossing to combine. Set this aside while you start making the sauce.
In a serving bowl that will fit all the cucumber, pour in the rice vinegar and add the garlic. Add the sugar or syrup, chili oil and both soy sauces, stirring to combine.
Use your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid from the salted cucumbers and add them to the prepared sauce/dressing. Mix to combine. Drizzle with seseame oil and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to serve.