August 1, 2013

Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad 拍黃瓜

chinese, cold dish, cucumber, recipe, salad, smashed, 拍黃瓜

An easy classic favorite: a cool summery chinese cucumber salad for these long summer days.  People pay bucks for this chinese cucumber salad in restaurants and I'm not sure why.  I've never liked the restaurant versions.  They always seem so sloppily made, you know either too sweet or too sour, or waaay too garlicky (uck, one of the top food sins in my humble opinion).  

Anyways why pay those big bucks for it when you can make it so easily and cheaply at home?  And, believe me, this little chinese cucumber salad, or 拍黃瓜, that you make yourself at home will taste way better than any restaurant version.

chinese, cold dish, cucumber, recipe, salad, smashed, 拍黃瓜

So what's the secret to this home cooking trick, you ask?  Why it's simple really.  You just need to taste the marinating mix and adjust to taste.  I swear to you that restaurants versions of chinese cucumber salad lack this simple step.  Maybe because they think it is so simple a recipe that they just toss a bit of this and a bit of that in and send it out to you.  Yuckity, yuck.  

Here I will moralize for a brief moment and remind everyone that simplicity is a virtue that must be achieved.  The nirvana of the chinese cucumber salad is a perfectly proportioned mix of sweet, salty and sour, with a topping note of fragrant sesame oil.

chinese, cold dish, cucumber, recipe, salad, smashed, 拍黃瓜

But I digress.  Back to our chinese cucumber salad. The chinese name for this salad translates roughly to "Banged Cucumber."  The reason for this name is that one very essential step of this dish is that you must use a flat sided chinese cleaver (or any other wide flat surface) to bang the cucumber flat before chopping into bite sized pieces.  (And yes, restaurants mostly seem to have forgotten this step too.)  

You will need to bang pretty hard to flatten the cucumber and bits of cucumber will fly about.  But this is essential to achieve the correct soft/crunchy texture that makes this chinese cucumber salad so delightful.  Plus banging away on the cuke can really help you relieve some stress!

Last but not least you need to get the right kind of cucumbers.  That would be either japanese or english cucumbers.  I think persian cucumbers are okay too.  The cukes should be slim and very hard.  The large cucumbers are generally too watery and soft to be used in a dish like this. 
Chinese Cucumber Salad Recipe 拍黃瓜
Prep time: 20 mins Marination time: 30 mins

  • 4 cucumbers (japanese or english type)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 clove garlic, smashed (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil


Wash your cucumber thoroughly.  Cut off the tips on each side.  Holding one end, carefully bang on cucumber with the flat of your cleaver until the cucumber splits and flattens out.  It will be a little mushed up which is what you want.  Once the whole cucumber is flattened, chop into bit sized piece.  (We like to chop at a diagonal.)  

Do the same to each cucumber.  Add 1/2 tsp salt, mix and place into colander.  Let cucumber drip juices out for 15-20 mins in the fridge.

Squeeze cucumber lightly to remove most of the juice.  Mix together the chopped cucumber, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil.  Taste.  It should be equal parts salty, sour and sweet.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour, stirring once or twice, before serving.  The longer the marination, the tastier.

Tip:  If you're in a hurry you can put it in the freezer for 5 minutes and then serve.



  1. Your recipes are excellent. You describe them so clearly, as to the what and why. I really appreciate your effort! I've done the radish salad, the Buddha's Delight, the cauliflower, the cuke salad and more. Thank you!

  2. Do you keep the seeds?

    1. Yes, you definitely keep the seeds cuz the seed parts on these types of smaller cucumbers are small and tasty ~ellen

  3. I'm SOOOO happy to stumble to your site! I used to make this with my mom but haven't done it for over 20 years so needed a bit of help. This is pretty much the same as what my mom used to make - perfect for summer time! I love that you put the Chinese name as well because some dishes I only know them in Chinese, but I don't really speak or write in Chinese anymore so it's a bit of a struggle to find it. Thank you! I'll be back again!

    1. Hi GJ - Welcome and glad that you found us! Hope our chinese cucumber salad comes out as good as your mom's! ~ellen

  4. Wow my neighbour grows these here in the Uk first time I have ever eaten them. Absolutely wonderful eaten straight from the ground

    1. You're so lucky you can get them so fresh! ~ellen

  5. Made this just now. Added some chilli how I have always eaten it and it tastes good. It in the fridge ready for dinner time.

  6. Ahh, the chili is the perfect touch. I wish we could do that but our girl doesn't handle spicy too well. 😕 But it's still one of our go to dishes for dinner! ~ellen