Smashing garlic cloves to release the peel is a well worn cook’s technique to relieve aggression. However, most are unaware that the technique can also be applied to unassuming cucumbers.
Woe to the cucumber that is about to become target practice for the wanton hothead currently in the kitchen.
Angry Cucumber Salad
This salad works particularly well in the summer when cucumbers are in peak season, and you might be able to find these skinny Japanese ones. The more common Persian version would work too, though it is smaller and not quite as juicy.
Japanese cucumbers have thin skin like English cucumbers. However, the seed is less developed, and they have a more tender bite than their British counterparts.
If you can find these envious beauties, simply drizzle Chinese black vinegar, sea salt, and a few grinds of Szechuan pepper. Perhaps some chopped cilantro for garnish if you please.
Special Ingredient: Chinkiang Black Vinegar
Named after the Chinkiang province in China it hails from, this black vinegar is akin to balsamic vinegar used heavily in Mediterranean cuisine. Call it a Chinese balsamic vinegar. It is mild like rice vinegar but has extra flavor, almost like soy sauce. It is not quite so sour either.
It is typically made from glutinous rice, however some versions are made from millet or sorghum. Usually aged as well, it has a faint smokiness and hint of sweetness too.
Smashing cucumbers is a classic Chinese technique that renders the knife into a mallet. It leaves the cucumbers in puzzle like pieces instead of uniform slices and releases some of the seeds and cooling juice.
Step 1: Smash
Simply pound the cucumber with the flat edge of the knife.
Step 2: Slice
Once smashed, go back and cut the cucumbers into 2 inch bite size pieces.
Step 3: Toss
Toss the smashed cucumbers in a bowl with sea salt, black vinegar, and some ground sichuan pepper if you have it. Regular black pepper will work too.
Some versions of this cucumber salad add sesame oil, soy sauce, and crushed garlic. However, if the cucumbers are fresh and sweet, they really do not need much else.
Will you try smashing this season?
Smashed Cucumbers - Angry & Vegan
- 4 ea Japanese cucumbers or 1 1/2 English cucumber
- 3 Tb Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp ground sichuan pepper or black pepper
- cilantro leaves for garnish
- Smash cucumbers with the flat edge blade of a knife. Chop into 2 inch pieces.
- Toss smashed cucumbers with black vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of sichuan pepper. Garnish with cilantro.