Smashed Cucumber Salad

This is a variation on smashed cucumber salad, which is very popular throughout China. This version uses gochugaru, which are bright red chili flakes from Korea that give this dish a beautifully vibrant color. The Chinese black vinegar is a must in this dish and an ingredient you will fall in love with if you haven't already.

Prep time:
Serving size: 4
Calories per serving: 26

1 firm English cucumber (about 14 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as vegetables, canola or grapeseed
1 small shallot, peeled and thinly sliced into half-moons (about 1/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes), or to taste
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar, such as Chinkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Partially peel the cucumbers by removing alternate strips of the skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Smash the cucumber with a flat side of a cleaver or large knife or a rolling pin or meat mallet until it is flattened with jagged edges. Split each cucumber half in half again lengthwise. Cut the strips into 1-inch pieces diagonally.

Toss the cucumber and salt together in a medium bowl. Let sit at room temperature until the cucumber releases some water, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the oil, shallot and garlic in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the shallot is translucent, about 2 minutes. Mix in the gochugaru and allow it to bloom in the oil. Stir the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds together in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Strain the cucumbers and dry them with a paper towel. Return them to the medium bowl. Add the vinegar mixture and toss. Toss again with the garlic-shallot oil. Garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and the cilantro.


Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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