Recipe Review

This Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad Is a Refreshing No-Cook Side Dish Perfect for This Week’s Dinner

published Mar 22, 2022
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cucumbers in bowl
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

When I’m cooking at home, I love a super simple side dish that doesn’t need to be cooked. Not only does it free up space on the stove or in the oven, but I can quickly put it together while the other parts of the meal are cooking or even just before plating. Blogger Lisa Lin recently posted a Reel showcasing her recipe for Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad, and it looks like it’s right up my alley: refreshing, garlicky, and no cooking required.

“I love making this smashed cucumber salad whenever I’m feeling lazy about cooking, like today,” Lin said. To make it, she slices off the ends of a cucumber then cuts it in half lengthwise. In her blog post about the recipe, Lin recommends choosing a cucumber with tender seeds. Japanese cucumbers are her preference because of their subtle sweet flavor, but she notes that Persian and English cucumbers also work.

Next, she places the cucumber halves on the cutting board, cut side down, and smashes them using the side of a meat cleaver and her palm. “Give them a good whack,” she said. Once the cucumber is smashed, she slices it.

Lin then tosses the cucumber slices with a pinch of salt and lets them sit for 20 minutes to draw out excess moisture before draining the liquid. In the blog post, she notes that she doesn’t always salt the cucumber, allowing her to taste the sweetness of the cucumber more. It also means a pool of liquid will form at the base of the salad, but she doesn’t mind.

While the cucumber slices sit in the salt, start making the sauce by grating a few cloves of garlic and letting them sit in rice vinegar for 10 minutes to mellow out the raw flavor. To finish the sauce, add soy sauce, chili oil, sugar, and sesame oil, and mix everything together with a spoon. Finally, toss together the cucumber slices and the sauce, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

I already have all of these ingredients (minus Japanese cucumbers) in my pantry and will definitely be trying this recipe soon. Cucumber salads are already a go-to side for me, and I’m intrigued by this Asian take on it. What are your favorite no-cook dinner sides?