Cold & Spicy Cukes

Spicy Smashed Cucumber Salad - Cucumber chunks mixed with vinagrette dressing and cilantro leaves. Served in a blue ceramic bowl with chopsticks, on blue and yellow table.

Smashing cucumbers is an ancient Chinese technique, bringing together the veggie’s coolness with the intense spice of Sichuan cuisine.

Crushing a cucumber produces flavors un-smashed cucumbers can’t. When you crush cells in a vegetable rather than slicing cleanly through it, certain compounds get released and you can get a significantly different flavor.

Use firm-fleshed, fresh cucumbers for this dish. Crushing them can soften them into mush if you start with old, soft ones.


  • 7-10 Persian cucumbers 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • ½ bunch cilantro, roughly chopped  
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced  
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce  
  • 2 Tbsp sugar  
  • 2 Tbsp chili oil  
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil  
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar 


  1. Cut ends off cucumbers, halve lengthwise, and then into 2-inch pieces. Carefully using the flat side of your knife, smash them gently – just enough to break the fruit inside. Toss pieces in salt and drain in colander for 30 minutes.  
  2. Mix together the rest of your ingredients, reserving 1/3 of the cilantro, and let sit while cucumbers drain. 
  3. Toss cucumbers and sauce together, then right before serving, sprinkle remaining cilantro on top.