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Chinese Cold Cucumber Recipe: A Refreshing Summer Salad

If you're looking for a cool and healthy dish to try this summer, look no further than the Chinese cold cucumber recipe. This dish is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is enjoyed throughout the year, but it's especially refreshing on a hot day.

A bowl of sliced cucumbers mixed with garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar. Green onions sprinkled on top

The dish is made with fresh cucumbers that are sliced and then smashed with a rolling pin or the flat side of a knife. This process helps to release the juices from the cucumber and gives it a unique texture. The cucumbers are then seasoned with a mixture of garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, and chili oil, which gives the dish its signature flavour.

You'll need to start by selecting the right type of cucumber. English or Persian cucumbers are the best choice for this dish, as they have a thin skin and are less watery than other varieties. Once you have your cucumbers, you'll need to wash them and then slice them into thin rounds. From there, you'll need to smash them with a rolling pin or the flat side of a knife and then season them with the garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, and chili oil mixture.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese cold cucumber recipe is a refreshing and healthy dish that's perfect for summer.
  • The dish is made with fresh cucumbers that are smashed and seasoned with garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, and chili oil.
  • Seafood can be added to the dish to give it an extra flavour boost. Try using prawns or crab meat for a delicious twist.

The Basics of Chinese Cucumber Salad

A bowl of sliced cucumbers mixed with garlic, vinegar, and soy sauce, garnished with sesame seeds and green onions

If you're looking for a refreshing and easy-to-make salad, Chinese cucumber salad is a great option. It's a cold dish that's perfect for hot summer days, and it's also a popular side dish in Chinese cuisine.

Selecting the Right Cucumbers

To make Chinese cucumber salad, it's important to select the right type of cucumber. English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers are great options because they have thin skins and are seedless. These types of cucumbers also have a mild flavor that pairs well with the salad dressing.

When selecting cucumbers, make sure they are firm and not too ripe. Overripe cucumbers can be mushy and have a bitter taste.

Understanding Pai Huang Gua (Smashed Cucumber Salad)

Pai Huang Gua, also known as smashed cucumber salad, is a popular version of Chinese cucumber salad. To make this dish, cucumbers are smashed or lightly pounded to release their juices, which are then mixed with a dressing of garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

This salad is usually served cold and is a great appetizer or side dish. It's easy to make and requires only a few ingredients.

If you want to add some seafood to your Chinese cucumber salad, you can try adding some cooked shrimp or crab meat. These seafood options would add a nice flavour and texture to the salad.

Preparation Techniques

A cucumber being sliced and salted, then mixed with garlic and vinegar

Washing and Cutting

To prepare the cucumbers for this Chinese cold cucumber recipe, start by washing them thoroughly. Cut off each end to avoid any bitterness. Then cut them into lengthwise quarters. Taking a large knife, slice along the seedy edge to remove the seeds and excess moisture. Finally, chop into bite-size pieces and place them into a large bowl.

Salting and Draining

After washing and cutting the cucumbers, sprinkle some salt over them and mix well. Let the cucumbers sit for about 10 minutes to allow the salt to draw out any excess water. Once the cucumbers have sat for 10 minutes, drain off any excess water and rinse the cucumbers with cold water to remove any excess salt.

The Art of Smashing

Another Chinese technique to prepare cucumbers is to smash them. To do this, take a large knife and smash the cucumber lightly with the side of the blade. This technique helps to release the juices and flavours of the cucumber. Once the cucumber is smashed, cut it into bite-size pieces and place them into a large bowl.

If you want to add some seafood to this dish, you can use shrimp or crab meat. Simply boil the seafood until cooked and mix it in with the cucumbers. This will add a delicious seafood flavour to the dish.

These preparation techniques will help you to get the most out of your cucumbers and create a delicious Chinese cold cucumber dish.

Flavour Profile and Dressing

A bowl of sliced cucumbers in a light, tangy dressing, garnished with sesame seeds and green onions

When it comes to Chinese cold cucumber salad, the flavour profile is all about the perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. The dressing is what brings all of these flavours together.

Creating the Perfect Balance

To create the perfect balance of flavours, you'll need a combination of ingredients such as sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, and chili. These ingredients can be adjusted to your personal preference, but keep in mind that the dressing should be tangy, slightly sweet, and spicy.

If you're making the dressing from scratch, you can experiment with different types of vinegar such as black vinegar, light soy sauce, and Chinkiang vinegar. Homemade chili oil can also be added for an extra kick of heat.

Homemade vs Store-Bought Ingredients

While store-bought ingredients can be convenient, making your own dressing can be more flavourful and cost-effective. Homemade dressings can also be tailored to your specific taste.

If you're short on time, store-bought dressings can also be used. Lao Gan Ma chili oil is a popular brand that can be found in most Asian grocery stores.

To add some seafood to the recipe, you can use cooked shrimp or crab meat. These seafood options will add a sweet and savoury flavour to the dish.

The dressing is the key to a delicious Chinese cold cucumber salad. Experiment with different ingredients to find the perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. And don't be afraid to try making your own dressing for a more flavourful and cost-effective option.

Serving and Pairing

A plate of sliced Chinese cold cucumbers sits next to a small dish of soy sauce and a pair of chopsticks on a bamboo placemat

As a Side Dish or Appetizer

Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad is a perfect side dish or appetizer to serve at any meal. It's a refreshing and light dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses. You can serve it in a large serving bowl as a side dish or on individual plates as an appetizer.

The dish is best served cold, making it perfect for hot summer days. You can prepare it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it. The cucumbers will remain crisp and refreshing, making it a great dish to serve for a summer BBQ or picnic.

Complementary Dishes

Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad pairs well with a variety of dishes. You can serve it as a side dish with noodles or cooked rice, or as an appetizer before a main course. The dish also pairs well with seafood, such as prawns or scallops.

If you're serving the dish with noodles, you can mix the cucumber salad with the noodles to create a refreshing and light meal. You can also serve it alongside other side dishes, such as stir-fried vegetables or dumplings.

When it comes to pairing the dish with seafood, you can use prawns or scallops. Simply cook the seafood in a pan with some garlic and ginger, and serve it alongside the cucumber salad. The combination of the fresh cucumber and the seafood creates a perfect balance of flavours.

Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad is a versatile dish that can be served in a variety of ways. It's a light and refreshing dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses and side dishes.

Nutritional Information

A bowl of sliced cucumbers with soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil, topped with chopped garlic and green onions. Nutritional information listed nearby

If you're looking for a refreshing and healthy salad, Chinese cucumber salad is a perfect choice. This salad is low in calories and high in nutrients, making it an excellent addition to any meal. Here's a breakdown of the nutritional information for this dish:

  • Calories: A serving of Chinese cucumber salad typically contains around 50-70 calories, making it an excellent choice for those watching their calorie intake.

  • Carbohydrates: Cucumbers are low in carbohydrates, with around 2-3 grams per serving. This makes them an excellent choice for those following a low-carb diet.

  • Protein: While cucumbers are not a significant source of protein, you can add protein to this dish by including seafood such as prawns or crab meat.

  • Fat: Chinese cucumber salad is a low-fat dish, with less than 1 gram of fat per serving.

  • Sodium: This salad is relatively low in sodium, with around 100-200 milligrams per serving. However, if you're watching your sodium intake, you can reduce the amount of salt used in the recipe.

  • Fiber: Cucumbers are a good source of fiber, with around 1-2 grams per serving. This can help you feel fuller for longer and aid digestion.

  • Saturated fat: This dish is low in saturated fat, with less than 1 gram per serving.

  • Potassium: Cucumbers are a good source of potassium, with around 150-200 milligrams per serving. This mineral is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

  • Vitamin C: Cucumbers are a good source of vitamin C, with around 5-10 milligrams per serving. This vitamin is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system.

  • Calcium and Iron: While cucumbers are not significant sources of calcium and iron, you can add these nutrients to the dish by including sesame seeds or tofu.

  • Vitamin A: Cucumbers are not a significant source of vitamin A, but you can add this nutrient to the dish by including carrots or sweet potatoes.

Nutritional Information Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is based on an estimate and may vary depending on the specific ingredients used and the serving size. It is always best to check the nutritional information for the specific ingredients you are using.

If you want to add some extra flavour and nutrition to your Chinese cucumber salad, consider adding some seafood. Prawns or crab meat are excellent options that pair well with the refreshing taste of cucumbers.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bowl of sliced cold cucumbers with garlic, vinegar, and sesame oil, surrounded by chopsticks and a recipe card

What's the best way to smash cucumbers for a salad?

The best way to smash cucumbers for a salad is to use a rolling pin or the flat side of a cleaver to gently smash the cucumbers. This will help the cucumbers absorb the flavors of the dressing while still maintaining some texture and crunch.

Can you suggest a simple dressing for a Chinese cucumber salad?

Yes, a simple dressing for a Chinese cucumber salad can be made with a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. You can also add minced garlic, ginger, and chili flakes to give it some extra flavor and spice.

What are the essential ingredients for an authentic Sichuan cucumber salad?

The essential ingredients for an authentic Sichuan cucumber salad are long cucumbers, garlic, sesame oil, Chinese dark vinegar, and Sichuan peppercorns. Some recipes may also include oyster sauce, sugar, and chili oil.

How do you keep the cucumbers crisp in a cold salad?

To keep the cucumbers crisp in a cold salad, it is important to salt them first and let them sit for about 10 minutes. This will draw out any excess moisture and prevent the cucumbers from becoming soggy. You can also store the salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Is there a quick method for pickling cucumbers Chinese-style?

Yes, a quick method for pickling cucumbers Chinese-style is to combine rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has cooled, pour it over sliced cucumbers and let them sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

What variations can you make to a smashed cucumber salad to keep it interesting?

To keep a smashed cucumber salad interesting, you can add various ingredients such as sliced red onions, cherry tomatoes, and fresh herbs like cilantro or mint. You may also add seafood such as shrimp or crab meat to give the salad a unique twist.