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For a super fast and super flavorful addition to your favorite Asian meals, look no further than this smashed cucumber salad! A special technique and zippy dressing transform ordinary cucumbers into a crisp, tangy side dish bursting with flavor. I tried it at an Asian fusion restaurant recently and was immediately inspired to create my own version.
You may be used to slicing, dicing or even spiralizing cucumbers for salads (cucumber noodle salad, cucumber tomato avocado salad, or creamy cucumber radish salad are some of my favorite ways to do these!). Smashing is another technique you’ll want to add to your cucumber salads, and it takes just minutes to do.
Why You’ll Love This Smashed Cucumber Salad Recipe
- Sweet, spicy taste
- Soft and crunchy texture
- Done in 20 minutes
- Easy-to-find ingredients
- Perfect with any Asian main dish!
What Is Smashed Cucumber Salad?
This salad uses a common technique in Asian cuisine for preparing cucumbers. Smashing them creates breaks down the fiber in their flesh, allowing more flavors to seep in from the dressing. Japanese, Thai, and Chinese smashed cucumber salad recipes use this prep method for delicious, refreshing results. It’s perfect for pairing with spicy dishes like Hunan beef.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for smash cucumber salad, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Cucumbers – I used English cucumbers for this Asian smashed cucumber salad recipe, but Persian cucumbers work perfectly here as well.
- Toasted Sesame Seeds – For crunch and flavor.
- Cilantro – Use fresh cilantro with bright green leaves and no brown spots.
- Rice Vinegar – Adds a distinct Asian flavor to the dressing. You can substitute white vinegar or even apple cider vinegar if you like, but the flavor will be different.
- Olive Oil – Use regular olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, or any neutral oil you like, such as avocado oil.
- Coconut Aminos – This is my favorite soy sauce substitute. If you tolerate soy, you can use soy sauce instead.
- Honey – Adds sweetness. I used Wholesome Yum sugar-free honey substitute, but you can also use conventional honey, maple syrup, or agave.
- Sesame Oil – Get a toasted sesame oil for best flavor.
- Sriracha – This is a chili sauce you can find at most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, garlic chili sauce or another hot sauce you have on hand can work.
- Garlic Powder – You can also use a chopped clove of fresh garlic instead.
- Salt & Pepper – I use sea salt, but kosher salt is also fine to use. For extra heat, add red pepper flakes in addition to the black pepper.
How To Make Smashed Cucumber Salad
This section shows how to make smashed cucumber salad, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Smash. Halve cucumbers lengthwise and place skin side up on a cutting board. Use a rolling pin, side of a knife, or smooth side of a meat mallet to pound the cucumber so that it splits and cracks.
TIP: No need to smash too hard!
Over-smashing will turn the cucumber into mush, so just apply pressure to make it break down a bit.
- Slice. Cut the cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Add to a large bowl with sesame seeds and cilantro.
- Make dressing. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk together.
- Pour. Pour dressing onto the salad and gently toss. Serve immediately, or allow to chill for 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. If desired, garnish with more sesame seeds and cilantro.
Keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Salad will render excess liquid over time, so drain if desired before serving.
What To Serve With Smashed Cucumber Salad
The rich flavor of this salad pairs well with simple sides like noodles, spooned onto a rice bowl with grilled meats and veggies, or paired with just about any Asian main dish! Try it with these recipes:
More Healthy Asian Side Dish Recipes
It’s easy to make fresh, flavorful sides for Asian meals. Try some of these favorites!
Smashed Cucumber Salad Recipe
Smashed Cucumber Salad
Smashed cucumber salad combines simple ingredients with a clever technique to create a zesty Asian side dish. Done in just 20 minutes!
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Smashed cucumber salad:
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Place cucumbers on a cutting board and cut in half lengthwise. Arrange the halved cucumbers skin side up. Using a flat object or rolling pin, pound the cucumber. Don’t apply too much pressure, just enough so that the cucumber cracks a little.
Cut the smashed cucumbers into 1-inch-thick (2.54 cm) slices.
Place the cucumbers into a large bowl. Add the sesame seeds and cilantro.
In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
Pour the dressing over the smashed cucumber salad and mix gently.
If you have time, let the salad rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop even more, if desired. Serve cold.
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Serving size: 1 cup
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