Cucumber salads are light, refreshing, and perfect for summer. The smashing process in this version opens up the cucumbers into craggy pieces that absorb every drop of the zesty dressing. Crispy chili oil (or chili crisp) is my latest food addiction, but you may substitute a small amount of red pepper flakes to taste.
1 ½ to 2 pounds English cucumbers
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. organic sugar
2 tsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, pulverized
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
1 scallion, both white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 tsp. chili crisp or ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1. Peel the cucumbers in long strips to make alternating stripes of white and green. Place them on your cutting board and smack them with a meat mallet or rolling pin along their whole length, rolling them over to attack all sides. They should begin to split apart somewhat, but don’t turn them into mush.
2. Slice the cucumbers diagonally into 1-inch pieces and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle them with the salt and toss them around to salt them evenly. Refrigerate them for at least 2 hours. Drain them thoroughly and then place them on a kitchen towel and pat them dry.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, lime juice, ginger, and garlic.
4. Transfer the drained, dried cucumbers to a serving bowl and add the dressing. Add the scallions and cilantro (and pepper flakes if using) and toss to combine.
5. Chill thoroughly and drizzle with chili crisp (if using) just before serving.
Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at [email protected]