Your cooking skills might not be the best, but the word on the street is that you’re pretty good at smashing things, sometimes even on purpose. If that’s the case, this refreshing, and very addictive smashed cucumber salad is going to be perfect for you. Above and beyond whisking up an extremely simple dressing, the success of this recipe comes down to you being able to flatten a cucumber with something heavy.

It really is as easy as it sounds, and by crushing our cucumber before we cut it, we produce flavors that un-smashed cucs can’t. When you crush the cells in a vegetable, as opposed to cutting cleanly through them, certain compounds get mixed together, which can result in a significantly different flavor. 

This is not always a good thing, and onions are the perfect example. Use a sharp knife, and they’re sweet and mild. Use a dull knife, or that thing you ordered after seeing the infomercial at 2 AM, and you’ll get something much harsher. In fact, it’s no joke that most people who don’t like onions, grew up in a kitchen with dull knives.

However, when it comes to cucumber, these ruptured cells produce a more desirable flavor, and texture. The only decision you’re going to have to make, is how long to let the cucumbers marinate in the dressing, if at all. Many chefs will toss and serve immediately, while others like to let the cucumbers chill in the dressing for a little while in the fridge, which is the method I prefer.

You’ll just have to do some tests to see what you prefer, but either way, this is one of my all-time favorite cold summer side dishes, and one I really hope you try very soon. Enjoy!


  • 2 English cucumbers , (about 1-1/2 pounds total weight)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1-½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds to garnish


1. Wrap cucumber in plastic, then smash flat. Unwrap, and cut into 1” x 1-1/2” pieces. Put cucumbers into strainer, then sprinkle sugar and salt over them. Put colander over bowl, and put whole assembly in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, to let liquid drain from cucumbers.
2. Meanwhile, mix up dressing. Put garlic in mixing bowl, with rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, and stir.
3. Pour cucumbers into dressing, and mix, then refrigerate for another 30 minutes, tossing once.
4. To serve, use a slotted spoon to put cucumbers in serving bowl. Spoon a little of the remaining dressing over them, then garnish with toasted sesame seeds.


Can substitute unseasoned rice vinegar with an extra pinch of salt and sugar for the seasoned rice vinegar.


Chef John


6 servings




Asian : East Asian : Japanese



preparation times

• Total Time: 2 Hours
• Active: 15 Minutes