This delicious Szechuan smacked cucumber is a simple dish that is all things salty, sour, and spicy!
Gosh… I never thought I’d get such a kick out of smashing a weighty chef’s knife into a vegetable.
But there I was at the kitchen island, giggling and going for broke.
The term smacked cucumber isn’t a euphemism. You really break the cucumber for this Chinese pickled cucumber recipe. That way, the delicious marinade loaded with hot chili oil gets a chance to impart a ton of flavor into those nooks and crannies in a relatively short amount of time.
And, aside from the fun of getting a little aggressive with food, this smacked cucumber with chili oil recipe just happens to be one of my favorite Chinese side dishes!
Smacked Cucumber with Chili Oil Ingredients
- English cucumber: Do you know the difference between an english cucumber and a regular cucumber? English cucumbers are typically longer in shape and have a thinner skin—making them much easier to break when you need to smack them for this dish. They are also a great source of vitamin C and B!
- Cloves garlic: Fresh garlic will make your dish both smell and taste phenomenal.
- Granulated sugar: A small amount of sugar is hardly noticeable but will enhance all of the other flavors around it!
- Plain rice vinegar: Rice vinegar is often a staple in many various Asian dishes. Keeping a bottle around will come in handy when preparing other Pickled Plum recipes too!
- Ground black pepper: A pinch of ground pepper will help give your cucumber a touch of mild spice and flavor without overpowering the dish!
- Kosher salt: A little salt goes a long way!
- Soy sauce: The flavors of the sauce will add a satisfying umami flavor—and if you’re looking to keep your sodium intake low, try a light soy sauce to add another level of healthy choice to this dish!
- Hot chili oil: Hot chili oil is a popular condiment made from both oil and red chili peppers.
The flavors of the spice will bring the fresh cucumber alive!
How to Make Smacked Cucumber
- Gather all of your kitchen tools and ingredients.
- Put your cucumber on a chopping board and place a chef’s knife, flat, on top.
- Using the palm of your hand, smack the knife until the cucumber splits and breaks. I know it might sound silly if you’ve never made a dish like this—but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do!
- After the cucumber has split, chop it into bite size pieces, and then transfer to a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle salt on top, toss, and set aside for 30 minutes!
- Meanwhile, make the chili oil by whisking the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Once done, now set this aside too!
- Drain the cucumber pieces and pat dry. Return them to the bowl and top with chili oil.
- Next, serve a good amount and enjoy!
What is Smacked Cucumber?
Smacked Cucumber is a popular Chinese side dish made of pickled cucumber pieces covered in tons of flavor and spice.
The term smacked cucumber isn’t a euphemism either. You really do have to smack and break the cucumber on a large cutting board to get the full, desired effect.
This way, the delicious marinade loaded with hot chili oil gets a chance to impart a ton of flavor into those nooks and crannies in a relatively short amount of time.
How do i Smack a Cucumber?
As reflected in step two and three in the directions above, you’ll read about how you can “smack” a cucumber. If you are a more visual learner, and can’t imagine what I’m explaining by reading the description, don’t be afraid to take to Youtube to see how others do it!
For me, the key has always been to find a balance with the smack. You don’t want to obliterate the cucumber to pulpy bits. And under doing it on the smashing front will just mean you’ll need to salt-marinate the cucumber bits for this Sichuan cucumber salad for longer. It might just be a trial-and-error learned skill to create those perfect jagged cracks, but you’ve got this!
The photos reflected throughout this recipe should give you a pretty good idea on how far to go with the whole destructive element.
If you’re still on the fence about how far to go when making your own smacked cucumber recipe at home, it’s probably best to stick with the less-is-more attitude and just marinate with salt longer.
And if you’re not super comfy using a flat blade of a cleaver to help smack it, you can try a rolling pin too!
What’s the Difference Between Smacked Cucumber and Other Cucumber Side Dishes?
The difference between this smacked cucumber recipe and other cucumber side dishes (like this quick cucumber pickles recipe) is the use of Chinese chili oil and soy sauce.
When it comes to chili oil, and many of the other ingredients for this appetizer, a little goes a long way. If you’re a fan of spicy foods and flavorful, light sides then you can’t go wrong with trying out this recipe at least once!
Playing with Different Spice Levels
The soy sauce lends an undercurrent of saltiness and umami flavor that plays so well with the spicy chili oil and the bright rice vinegar. All of this paired with the garlic? Your tastebuds will be absolutely titillated!
To peppercorn or not to peppercorn? As you know by now, this Sichuan dish is already full of flavor and spice—but there’s always going to be those adventurous people who are going to wonder how they can add even more spice. In this case, some people like to add ground Sichuan peppercorns—a popular ingredient found in many Sichuan-based recipes. This will really up the spice quotient!
If you’re like me though, I prefer to leave them out—as they can have a real tongue numbing effect and can overpower a dish. But if spice is your thing, it couldn’t hurt to try. So go for it!
And if this dish appeals to you but you are a little worried about its already existing spice level—try replacing the chilli oil with sesame oil instead! There’s also the option to use the sesame oil and adding a minimal amount of chili flakes to it to get the most minimal spice but a chance to experience the original intended flavor.
What to Pair with Smacked Cucumber
Smacked cucumber can make a great side to a number of main courses, including various Asian-inspired noodle-based dishes, or even just a small bowl of Japanese rice. They also go great as a light side to heftier meat dishes as well.
But the beauty of this recipe is that you don’t need to pair anything with it at all. It’s also an incredibly satisfying solo snack you can easily meal prep, save for later, and reach for between meals.
And if you really want to get creative, you can make a smashed cucumber salad! Just add your bite-size pieces of smashed cucumber to a large bowl of lettuce leaves—and voila! It’s that simple. You made your snack into a full-on, flavorful side salad! Place in a nice serving bowl and take to your next gathering and your friends will be more than impressed with your new, spicy cucumber salad offering. It’s a fun vegan and/or vegetarian option too!
Some Cooking Tips
- Careful with the knife! Don’t cut yourself when smacking the blade. Most important: keep the blade flat!
- If you plan on kissing anyone after eating these delicious garlic loaded Sichuan pickles, make sure they have a few too! ♥️
What about you? Is there a side dish you make all the time at your place? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!
Other simple, delicious pickled veggie recipes:
- Cucumber Kimchi
- Pickled Cherry Tomatoes (Thai Style)
- Spicy Pickled Vegetables
- Cucumber and Ginger Pickled (Japanese Style)
- Pickled Watermelon Rind Bites
Did you like this Smacked Cucumber With Chili Oil Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Smacked Cucumber with Chili Oil
Savory bites of cucumber tossed in chili oil and soy sauce. The perfect appetizer to wow your guests!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Vegan
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 English cucumber
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons hot chili oil
- Put cucumber on a cutting board and place a chef’s knife, flat, on top.
- Using the palm of your hand, smack the knife until the cucumber splits and breaks. Chop into bite size piece and transfer to a bowl.
- Sprinkle salt on top, toss and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile make the chili oil by whisking the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
- Drain the cucumber pieces and pat dry. Return to the bowl and top with chili oil. Serve.
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup
- Calories: 35
- Sugar: 1.7 g
- Sodium: 690.7 mg
- Fat: 2.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 3.1 g
- Fiber: 0.2 g
- Protein: 0.6 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: vegetables, side, appetizer, vegetarian, plant based, meatless, Asian
I made this recipe… wonderful quick cucumber recipe and packed full of flavor!
Wondering if I can use zucchini and squash? I don’t have cucumbers and I need to use up the veggies I already have!
Hi Jenna-Lee! If you like raw zucchini and squash I would say certainly! 🙂
Hi! Do I put salt into the chili oil mixture? Or is the salt in the ingredient list used to salt the cucumbers? Thanks!
Hi Bet! The salt is used to soften and infuse the cucumber with some flavor. Once they are smashed, sprinkle it on top and leave the cucumber to sit for about 30 minutes.
Can you store this for lunch or do you need to eat it same day?
Hi Katie! You can store the cucumber in the fridge for up to about 2 days, just make sure you get rid of some of the oil so flavor isn’t too intense 🙂
I made this last night with a few modifications and it was delicious! I didn’t smack the cucumbers but just cut them and marinated them in Himalayan salt. Also, I omitted the sugar and used a chili oil that already has Sichuan peppers and also sesame seeds, You were right about the garlic! Was weary about kissing my husband after the meal!
Love this recipe! It looks so delicious. I love using chili oil in recipes and this one looks killer! Can’t wait to try this at home. Thank you for sharing!
I cannot even tell you how badly I want a big bowl of these to scarf down for my lunch right now – holy! They look remarkably delicious! And those pictures? You are such a talented photography, I just adore every single one.
I can’t wait to make this and use it as a side dish in some of my bentos (assuming, that is, I don’t eat them all before then)! I’ve tried a few recipes before that told me to smash the cucumbers, but I was never sure how much “smashing” was too much or not enough – now I won’t have that problem thanks to your helpful tips and photos! Thanks for the super awesome recipe Caroline – pinning and bookmarking for sure! 🙂
OMG this brings back memories of living in Asia. Thank you!!