When I lived in China over 10 years in the past, I tasted smashed cucumber salad (拍黃瓜, pai huang gua) for the primary time. It is a straightforward dish of cucumber items tossed with numerous garlic, vinegar, and seasonings. Growing up, I didn’t eat many Chinese dishes that featured uncooked garlic. I used to be pleasantly shocked by how addictive such a easy dish might be.
In some Chinese menus, you may also see cucumber salad known as 涼拌黃瓜 (liang ban huang gua), which accurately interprets to chill tossed cucumbers. All these salads are fairly related: uncooked cucumber items tossed with uncooked garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and different seasonings.
Chinese smashed cucumber salad is an efficient aspect dish that’s easy to arrange however delivers in taste. As a matter of reality, I generally simply eat the salad with rice for dinner and it’s so satisfying.
HOW TO MAKE CHINESE SMASHED CUCUMBER SALAD
When making cucumber salads, I like utilizing cucumbers with tender seeds. That’s why Persian, Japanese, or English (scorching home) cucumbers work nice for this smashed cucumber salad recipe.
Personally, I feel Japanese cucumbers style the very best as a result of they’ve a delicate candy taste. I discover Persian and English cucumbers a bit bland these days. I often purchase Japanese cucumbers on the Sacramento farmers markets. You may also discover them in Japanese grocery shops like Oto’s Marketplace. If Japanese cucumbers aren’t straightforward to seek out, use Persian or English cucumbers.
Japanese cucumbers could be fairly thick, particularly ones that I discover on the farmers market. Because of the thickness, they are often tough to smack complete with a knife. That’s why I like to recommend slicing the cucumber in half lengthwise.
Then, place the cucumbers, minimize aspect down. Place the aspect of your knife over the cucumber. Using the fleshy a part of your palm, smack the knife, till the cucumber begins to separate. Continue doing this alongside the size of the cucumber. The bigger floor space of a meat cleaver makes it good for this job. Finally, slice the cucumber diagonally.
Persian cucumbers are typically smaller and have extra tender pores and skin than Japanese cucumbers. If you’re utilizing Persian cucumbers, you must be capable to smack them complete with out having to slice them first.
SHOULD YOU SALT THE CUCUMBERS?
It relies on your choice. Most cucumber salad recipes will let you know to toss the cucumbers with a pinch of salt. Then, you let the cucumbers relaxation for 15 to twenty minutes in order that the salt can draw out extra moisture. If you hate watery cucumber salads, then you definitely’ll completely need to do that salting step.
I’ll be sincere, I typically don’t trouble to salt the cucumbers beforehand. I often wait till I’m nearly to serve dinner earlier than tossing the smashed cucumber items with the sauce. I feel that I can style the pure sweetness of the cucumbers higher this manner. That mentioned, in about quarter-hour, a pool of water will kind on the backside of the salad bowl. I don’t thoughts this liquid in any respect. As a matter of reality, that liquid is nice for flavoring jasmine rice.
In the recipe and the cooking video, I present instructions on salting the cucumbers simply in case that’s what individuals desire.
MAKING HOMEMADE CHILI OIL
I like utilizing my do-it-yourself chili oil as a part of the sauce for this smashed cucumber salad. If you’ve made my chili oil earlier than, you’ll know that I like utilizing contemporary garlic and ginger to make the oil extra aromatic. I additionally like utilizing a mixture of standard chili flakes (beneath left) and gochugaru (beneath proper), Korean purple pepper flakes (generally translated as purple pepper powder).
The chili flakes are the purple pepper flakes that you’ll find within the spice aisles of your grocery retailer. They ought to have a medium stage of spice. I often buy chili flakes from The Allspicery, which is a Sacramento spice store.
I like utilizing gochugaru for my chili oil as a result of it has a delicate spice and lightweight smoky taste. More importantly, it turns the chili oil into a stupendous shade of purple that’s unparalleled. You can discover gochugaru in Korean supermarkets in massive luggage. I additionally like utilizing Mother In Law’s gochugaru as a result of they arrive in small jars. It’s a superb dimension should you don’t use gochugaru typically.
To make the oil, add all of the spices to a heat-proof bowl (ceramic or stainless-steel is nice).
Then, warmth 1/3 cup of oil over medium-high warmth for two to three minutes, till the temperature of the oil reaches 325ºF to 350ºF and the oil appears to be like skinny and runny. You can use any impartial flavored oil like vegetable, grapeseed, almond, or avocado oil. Do not warmth the oil hotter than 350ºF as a result of the gochugaru will burn.
Carefully pour the recent oil over the spices. Let the oil infuse for at the very least half-hour.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER CHILI OIL
You solely want 2 tablespoons of the chili oil for the smashed cucumber salad, so you should have leftover chili oil. I like to recommend tossing it with noodles or utilizing it to season fried rice or stir fries. Try to make use of the sauce inside per week due to the contemporary ginger and garlic within the chili oil. Store the chili oil within the fridge. For extra inspiration, right here’s a listing of dishes that you should utilize with the chili oil:
SAUCE FOR SMASHED CUCUMBER SALAD
For the cucumber salad sauce, you’ll want the chili oil, freshly grated garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil.
To mellow out the uncooked chew of the garlic, I combine the garlic with rice vinegar and let that sit for quarter-hour. I just like the brightness of rice vinegar for the smashed cucumber salad. Other recipes I’ve seen use Zhenjiang vinegar (鎮江醋, or Chinkiang vinegar). Zhenjiang vinegar is a darkish vinegar that has a malty taste profile.
Don’t toss the cucumbers with the sauce till you might be able to serve your meal. That approach the cucumbers received’t develop into too soggy or limp.
CAN I MAKE THIS SALAD AHEAD?
Yes, you’ll be able to put together the salad substances as much as a day forward. Just retailer the cucumbers and the sauce individually within the fridge. Don’t toss the smashed cucumber salad till you’re nearly able to serve it.
Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad (拍黄瓜)
This salad serves 2 to 4 individuals. You can double the recipe to make a bigger batch. You may have leftover chili oil on this recipe. Toss the chili oil with noodles, rice, or dumplings. Refrigerate the oil and use it inside per week.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili flakes, (see observe 1)
- 2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes), (see observe 2)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup oil, could be vegetable, grapeseed, or any impartial oil
- 1 to 1 1/4 kilos Japanese cucumbers, (see observe 3)
- small pinch of kosher salt, about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
- 3 cloves garlic, grated or zested
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons chili oil with spices
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Make the Chili Oil
The chili oil wants time to infuse so I like to recommend making this primary. You may also make it a day forward.
Add the minced garlic, minced ginger, chili flakes, gochugaru, and salt in a heat-proof bowl. You’re going to pour scorching oil into the bowl, so keep away from utilizing bowls that may crack (like glass and a few porcelains). I often use ceramic bowls however a chrome steel mixing bowl or a saucepan works.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high warmth for two to three minutes, till the oil reaches 325ºF to 350ºF. You are not looking for the oil to be any hotter as a result of the gochugaru will burn. If you don’t have a thermometer, warmth the oil for two minutes simply to be on the secure aspect.
Very fastidiously pour the recent oil over the spices. (See observe 4) Let the oil infuse for at the very least half-hour.
Make Cucumber Salad
Slice off the ends of the cucumbers. Then, slice the cucumbers in half, lengthwise.
Place the cucumber halves, minimize aspect down. Then place the aspect of the knife over the cucumber. Using the fleshy a part of your palm smack the knife to smash the cucumber till it splits. Make positive to smash alongside the whole size of the cucumber. Then, slice the cucumbers diagonally, about 1/2-inch thick slices. Transfer the cucumber items to a bowl.
Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the cucumbers and blend. Let the cucumbers sit for 20 minutes. Then, drain out the surplus water on the backside of the bowl. (See observe 5) You don’t must rinse the cucumbers. (See observe 6)
Add the grated/zested garlic to a bowl and blend it with the rice vinegar. Let that sit for 10 to fifteen minutes to mellow out the uncooked chew of the garlic.
Add the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of chili oil (with bits of pepper and spices), sugar, and sesame oil.
Right earlier than you might be able to serve the cucumber salad, toss the cucumber items with the sauce. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the cucumber salad for garnish.
- These are the usual purple pepper flakes that you’ll find within the spice aisles of your grocery retailer. They ought to be a medium stage of spice.
- I like utilizing gochugaru for my chili oil as a result of it has delicate spice and a light-weight smoky taste. More importantly, it turns the chili oil into a stupendous shade of purple that’s unparalleled. You can discover gochugaru in Korean supermarkets in massive luggage. I additionally love Mother In Law’s gochugaru, which is available in comparatively small jars.
- I like utilizing Japanese cucumbers due to their tender seeds and subtly candy taste. You may also use Persian cucumbers or English (scorching home) cucumbers.
- Some individuals have requested me should you can simply add the spices into the saucepan with the recent oil. You can however you run the chance of burning the spices as a result of the heated saucepan retains a variety of warmth. If you need to do that, then I’d suggest heating up the oil to a decrease temperature, like 300ºF to make sure that the spices don’t burn.
- To be sincere, I don’t at all times salt the cucumbers beforehand. That’s both as a result of I neglect or can’t be bothered to take action. I additionally suppose that I can style the sweetness of the cucumbers higher if I don’t salt the cucumbers. If you don’t salt the cucumbers, a pool of liquid will kind on the backside of the bowl of salad. I’m not bothered by the liquid. In reality, I like utilizing the liquid to season rice.
- If you might be involved about salt consumption, you’ll be able to cut back the soy sauce for the cucumber sauce by about 1 teaspoon.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.1g | Protein: 2.4g | Fat: 8.7g | Saturated Fat: 1.3g | Sodium: 895mg | Fiber: 2.4g | Sugar: 4.8g