Shaken Cucumber Salad (拍黄瓜)


Ten Minutes; Makes One Quart

Baby, baby! Get up on this! Ah, shake it, sh-shake it real good!

Light and refreshing, shaken (or, traditionally, smashed) cucumber salads can be found in every Chinese kitchen. It’s a near-miracle that so physically vigorous a process can yield such delicately nuanced morsels. Ordo ab chao.

We make these cool cukes by the half gallon. We’re lucky if they last half a day. Free workout included. 

The Goods:

1½ to 2 pounds of cucumbers, of any variety

1 tsp salt

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce or tamari

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the flat side of your knife

(optional) 1 piece ginger, about the size of your top pinky digit, sliced into thin strips

(optional) 1 tbsp honey

(optional) A Jimmy Nardello (sweet) or spicy red pepper, cut into thin rounds

The Process:

Lop off the tops and bottoms of your cucumbers. Slice them lengthwise into quarters and cut into approximate ½ inch pieces.

Excluding the optional pepper, mix the remaining ingredients in the bottom of a quart jar with a tight fitting lid. 

Add the cucumbers to the jar with the dressing. Secure the lid, and shake, shake, shake it!

When your arms are tired (or after about a minute), they will be ready for service. Alternatively, put the cucumbers in the fridge to marinade (they get better with time), giving them a shake just before serving.

Garnish with red pepper and salt to taste.


* If at first not all of your cucumbers fit, go ahead with the shaking. It will free up some space in the jar. If still you cannot fit them all, have yourself a snack. You’ve earned it.

* For a less-watery product, carefully cut the seeds out of the quartered cucumbers, before cutting into smaller pieces.

* For an even less watery product, set the undressed cucumber pieces in a strainer over a sink. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of salt and mix it all around. Let the water drain for twenty or so minutes. If you do this, skip on the teaspoon of salt in the dressing.


Geoffrey Van