Cucumber salad (凉拌拍黄瓜)

That this cucumber salad (liang ban pai huang gua) is like none other would be a most accurate statement because of how deliciously it’s layered to not only make the cucumbers juicier but also that much more interesting, because really what are cucumbers if not crunchy water?

This recipe comes from the mountainous Dong Bei region of China and it literally translates to cold cucumber as it’s served cold as an accompaniment to Dong Bei dishes, however, due to its absolutely delicious nature it’s now a rather popular dish eaten across the country.

I got the recipe for this dish from a friend’s mother-in-law who is from Shenyang and makes this salad almost every day as a part of their meals.

The ingredients are fairly simple. You need juicy cucumbers, green onions, coriander, garlic, red chillies, soy sauce, Chinese vinegar, sugar, salt, boiled water, and MSG.

We begin by making the dressing first, which is the heart and soul of this salad. Finely chop the garlic and chillies and mix in the soy sauce and the vinegar.

Mix in the salt, sugar, and MSG and the boiled water.

Finely chop the coriander and the green parts of the green onion.

Add the chopped coriander and onions to the dressing. At this stage you can if you want to add some sesame oil which is optional, but so good. Give it a good stir and keep it aside for later.

The beauty of the salad apart from its dressing is the way the cucumbers are cut which enables maximum absorption of the thin dressing. This style of chopping is called ‘pat cut’ which is literally forcefully patting or rather smashing the said ingredient and then chopping it. usually one uses the flat side of a cleaver for this but I use a rolling pin because cleavers are I aren’t very good friends at times.

So you just smash the cucumber on its side until it breaks and looks like it’s going to fall apart.

Something like this and then chop it as you like.

I go for the usual.

Once smashed and chopped, put the cucumbers into a bowl of choice and pour over the dressing. Mix thoroughly and let it sit for at least half an hour before serving/eating.

Serve chilled.

Recipe ingredients

Garlic :  1 medium size or 2 small cloves
Red chillies: 1
Light soy sauce: 6 tsp
Chinese aged vinegar: 2 tbsp
Sesame oil (optional): 1 tbsp
Salt: a small pinch
Sugar: 1 tsp
MSG: a small pinch
Boiled water :50mls
Coriander: a small bunch
Green onions : 2-3
Cucumber: 300-500g

Recipe instructions

In a clean bowl add the finely diced garlic and red chillies. To this mixture add the soy sauce, aged vinegar, salt, sugar, msg, and boiling water. Finely chop the coriander and green part of the onions. Mix in with the dressing and keep aside later. Smash the cucumbers with the flat side of a cleaver or a rolling pin and chop them into bite-sized pieces.
Mix the cucumbers with the dressing and let sit for at least 15-30 minutes before serving.