This recipe has been on absolute repeat this summer – so much so, that I think it’s safe to say that I’m addicted. I’ve been eating this with dumplings or as a side to simply cooked fish. I’ve also had these mixed into salads, served along with peanut soba noodles for lunch, or even as an afternoon snack after work. These work really anywhere a spicy, crunchy bite would be welcome, which for me has been almost everywhere this summer. They’re the perfect combination of cold and spicy, sweet and salty, crunchy and juicy. The complexity of the flavors keeps me constantly coming back for more, and I hope you try it too!
I’ve been on a personal mission to practice making better Chinese food at home this year, and this dish has quickly become one of my favorite dishes that I’ve attempted to make thus far. With that being said, I clearly did not come up with this idea or this concept, however the recipe below features my favorite combination of ingredients that I’ve tried. If you’re interested in additional information, I’ve linked several different variations of the dish below if you want to check out some different versions. The recipes I’ve seen use anything from grated garlic, fresh ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and chili oil in all different amounts and combinations, which means this dish is totally customizable to your favorite flavors and preferences. The recipe below is my personal favorite combination, and it was largely influenced by these recipes listed below.
In my version of the recipe, I use a combination of black vinegar, a little bit of sugar, sesame oil, and chili crisp. I generally slice or roughly dice my cucumbers, but of course feel free to smash them as the traditional recipe states! My favorite version of this dish is made with Persian cucumbers, which have a thin skin and not many seeds, and a delicious cucumber flavor. That being said, this recipe will work with any kind of cucumber that you may have on hand, which may be great news for the pile of cucumbers that you may be racking up from your garden this time of year.
An ingredient that may be less familiar to some is black vinegar, which is a new to me flavor that I’ve been really enjoying here. Black vinegar is a Chinese vinegar made from grains that vary from malt to sticky rice (depending on the region), and it offers a flavor profile that is deeply umami and less harsh and acidic than other vinegars I’ve tried. It’s available at most Asian grocery stores and is easy enough to find online. If you’re not up for buying a new type of vinegar just to make this dish, I don’t blame you! Use rice wine vinegar as a substitute for black vinegar, and the recipe will still turn out really good.
Final thing, the chili crisp that I’ve been using for this recipe is my other latest obsession, Fly by Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp. The flavor is spicy, tingly, slightly numbing, floral – so complex, and so good. It packs a serious flavor punch while also bringing the heat, but in a delightfully exciting, balanced way. If you don’t have this specific brand of chili crisp on hand, you should buy some and try it. I’m kidding of course! Any chili crisp will do here, or substitute the chili crisp with some gochujang and you’ll be well on your way!
Recipe down below, photo up top! This recipe makes enough for 1-2 servings (it’s 1 serving in my house), so feel free to scale up if you’re making this for a crowd!
Recipe: Smacked Cucumber Salad
- 2 small cucumbers
- 1 tsp black or rice wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp chili crisp
- Pinch of salt to taste
- Rinse and dry your cucumbers. Using a knife, slice your cucumbers into your desired shape (thin rounds, dice, large chunks – whatever mood you are feeling will work great here!).
- Add your chopped cucumbers to a bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame oil, and chili crisp to the bowl, and mix until the cucumbers are fully coated in the dressing and the dressing is fully combined.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Want to check out some other versions of this recipe? Try these options!
- Serious Eats: https://www.seriouseats.com/sichuan-style-smashed-cucumber-salad-recipe
- The Plant Based Wok: https://theplantbasedwok.com/smacked-cucumber-salad/
- Pickled Plum: https://pickledplum.com/smacked-cucumber-chili-oil/
- Christie At Home: https://christieathome.com/blog/spicy-smacked-cucumber-salad/
- Food 52: https://food52.com/recipes/75523-smacked-cucumber
- BBC Good Food: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/smacked-cucumber-pickles-0
- Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/smacked-cucumber-salad/14862/
- NYT Cooking: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1021194-smacked-cucumber-quick-kimchi