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To get better flavor from a cucumber, you need to rough it up
Milk Street Bowtie Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

40 minutes 15 minutes active

Free

Smashing the cucumbers helped release their seeds and created rough surfaces for the dressing to cling to. For a simple variation on this recipe, add ¼ cup creamy peanut butter and 2 tablespoons water with the soy sauce and sesame oil to smooth the dressing. In China, this salad is eaten with chopsticks so the dressing drips off the pieces of cucumber; to avoid an oily salad, use a slotted spoon to dole out portions.

2 pounds English cucumbers (about 2 large)
4 teaspoons white sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons grapeseed, peanut or canola oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Cilantro leaves, sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, to serve (optional)
Ingredients
  • 2

    pounds English cucumbers (about 2 large)

  • 4

    teaspoons white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon kosher salt

  • 4

    teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar

  • 1

    garlic clove, peeled and smashed

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed, peanut or canola oil

  • ½

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1

    tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1

    tablespoon grated fresh ginger

  • Cilantro leaves, sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

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Smashed Cucumber Salad

Get Ready to Cook

6

Servings

40 minutes

15 minutes active

Tip

Don’t substitute American cucumbers for English. The ratio of seeds to flesh is higher and the skins are too tough.

Ingredients
  • 2

    pounds English cucumbers (about 2 large)

  • 4

    teaspoons white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon kosher salt

  • 4

    teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar

  • 1

    garlic clove, peeled and smashed

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed, peanut or canola oil

  • ½

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1

    tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1

    tablespoon grated fresh ginger

  • Cilantro leaves, sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

Step 1 of 5

Trim, crack, and seed the cucumbers

2
pounds English cucumbers (about 2 large)

Trim the ends off the cucumbers, then halve lengthwise. Place each half cut side down, then press a rolling pin or the flat side of a broad knife against the cucumber and hit firmly with the heel of your hand. Repeat along the length of the cucumbers until they crack.

Step 2 of 5

Scrape and discard the seeds

Pull the sections apart, scraping and discarding the seeds. Cut into rough ¾-inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl.

Step 3 of 5

Combine and prepare the sugar-salt mixture

4
teaspoons white sugar
1
tablespoon kosher salt
4
teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1
garlic clove, peeled and smashed

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and salt; toss the cucumbers with 5 teaspoons of the mixture. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes, tossing occasionally.


Meanwhile, stir the vinegar and garlic into the remaining sugar-salt mixture. Set aside.

Step 4 of 5

Prepare the chili oil

2
tablespoons grapeseed, peanut or canola oil
½
teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a small skillet over medium-low, combine the grapeseed oil and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until sizzling and the pepper flakes begin to darken, 2 to 4 minutes. Strain the oil, discarding the solids.

Step 5 of 5

Stir in the oils, combine, and serve

tablespoons soy sauce
1
tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1
tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Cilantro leaves, sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

Remove and discard the garlic from the vinegar mixture. Stir in the soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. Transfer the drained cucumbers to a kitchen towel and pat dry.


In a bowl, combine the cucumbers and dressing. Stir for 1 minute, then stir in half of the chili oil. Serve drizzled with more chili oil and sprinkled with cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds, if desired.

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