Smashed Cucumber Salad with Avocado and Tomatoes
This refreshing Chinese-inspired cucumber salad is wonderful on a hot night and pairs nicely with spicy food. There are dozens of recipes on the internet for both Chinese and Korean versions of smashed cucumber salad, also called pai huang gua or ban huang gua. The various recipes all include smashing the cucumbers, letting them drain and dressing them with a rice vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce mixture. Some smashed cucumber salad recipes include chili oil, chili paste, green onions, fresh ginger, fresh garlic and cilantro.
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Smashing TechniqueThe reason for smashing and draining the cucumbers is to eliminate water, which makes them crunchy and creates craggy surfaces where the dressing can adhere to. Some recipes advocate smashing the cucumbers whole before you slice them. I like seeding the cucumbers before I smash them as it helps to eliminate more water, which would dilute the dressing. A cleaver is a great tool for smashing the cucumbers, but a chef's knife works well, as does a heavy pan if you are smashing your cucumbers whole. After smashing the cucumbers they are put into a colander, tossed with a pinch of salt and sugar, and a bag of ice is placed on top to weigh them down and keep them cold while they drain.
Avocado and Tomato PairingUnlike traditional recipes for smashed cucumber salad, I like to pair the cucumbers with sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes. The silky avocado contrasts beautifully with the crunchy cucumbers and the tomatoes add a little flavor and visual pop. I could also see adding finely sliced onions, lightly steamed asparagus or cauliflower if you wanted to experiment a bit.
More Refreshing Cucumber RecipesIf you like this Smashed Cucumber Salad recipe you may also enjoy these cucumber recipes:
- Cucumber Noodle Salad
- Yogurt Raita with Cucumber and Yellow Raisins
- Jicama, Cucumber and Citrus Salad
- Herbed Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce
- Modern Roasted Cucumber and Tomato Sandwiches
- Japanese Cucumber and Shrimp Salad
Smashed Cucumber Salad with Avocado and Tomato
This refreshing and crunchy smashed cucumber salad is perfect for a hot sultry evening or to pair with spicy food. The crunch of the cucumbers pairs well with the silkiness of the avocados and the tomatoes add color and pop. Can be made in advance.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 2 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner, Lunch
- Cuisine: New American, Asian
For the cucumbers:
- 1 pound Persian cucumbers
- Large pinch kosher salt
- Large pinch sugar
- 1 1/2 T rice vinegar
- 2 t sugar
- 2 t soy sauce
- 2 t toasted sesame seed oil
- 1 t or more Chinese chili oil (to taste)
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely minced
- 1” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced
- Handful of cherry tomatoes
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Red pepper flakes
- Cut the ends off of the cucumbers and then slice them in half from end to end. Using a small spoon, remove the seeds. Cut each half across the width into two inch pieces. Taking a wide blade knife such as a cleaver or a chef’s knife, lay the blade down on the skin-side of each piece of cucumber and smash down with the palm of your hand. Smash each piece several times.
- Put the smashed pieces of cucumber in a strainer and toss with a large pinch of kosher salt and sugar. Note a large pinch is made with all five fingers and is about 3/4 of a teaspoon. Place a large bag of ice cubes on top of the cucumbers and let them rest for 15 to 30 minutes, or up to four hours in advance.
- Shake the cucumbers to eliminate excess liquid and place in a bowl. Set aside.
For the dressing:
- Stir the vinegar, rice and salt together to dissolve. Whisk in soy sauce, sesame seed oil and chili oil. Taste and adjust as needed.
Assembling the salad:
- Toss the cucumbers with half of the dressing and pile on one end of a serving platter. Arrange the sliced avocado and tomatoes next to the cucumbers.
- Scatter the minced and grated garlic and ginger over everything. Drizzle remaining dressing over avocado and tomatoes. Garnish cucumbers, tomato and avocado with toasted sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.
This salad is addictive. It is easy to expand for larger groups or to make for just one or two people. I would plan half a pound of cucumber per person.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH