This month, Tasting Table celebrates all things salad. Keep your cool with us.
Though cucumbers are available all year, summer is the best time to use them. Look for the Persian or Japanese variety, which has a thin skin and is super crunchy.
There are many variations of this Thai-inspired salad, but this one is my favorite. In it, cucumbers are cut and lightly crushed (the irregular shape better absorbs the spicy dressing). This recipe can be prepared two ways: You can just do a quick pickle to let the cucumber retain its crunchy texture and bring the ginger forward, or you can leave the cucumbers sitting in the dressing overnight to allow the flavors to meld and become more cohesive (my preferred method).
Whichever way you go, this salad is super easy and satisfying on its own or as a punchy side dish for grilled meats.
Smashed Cucumber Salad
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings (3 cups)
Prep Time: 35 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook Time: N/A
Total Time: 35 minutes, plus marinating time
6 small Persian or Japanese cucumbers (about 1 pound), ends trimmed
2 garlic cloves, grated using a microplane
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chile oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger (1-to-2-inch piece)
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on an angle
1. Cut the cucumbers into 1-inch rings and arrange them on a cutting board or kitchen surface. Using a large knife, gently smash down on the cucumber pieces so that they flatten out a bit.
2. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, rice wine vinegar, sugar, chile oil, sesame oil, fish sauce, salt and ginger. Add the cucumbers and toss. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight (see note).
3. Right before serving, toss in the lime zest and juice, cilantro and scallions.