拍黄瓜 – Smashed Cucumbers

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This is one of my favourite veggie side-dishes, and it was one I would consistently order when dining at most restaurants in China. Pai Huang Gua literally translates to Smashed Cucumbers… but as I learned while trying to prepare this dish, if there’s too much smashing involved you will end up with most of the cucumber going everywhere.

Ready 1 cucumber (I’m using a continental cucumber for this) and a utensil that will be appropriate for smashing. I usually use the end of my knife as pictured, but you could we a rolling pin or meat tenderiser. Anything with a bit of weight will do. With your tool, you carefully bang on one end of the cucumber until you see it crack open slightly. Once that happens, you continue to smash with the same amount of force along the rest of the cucumber… spreading the cracks down to the end. It should look similar to the picture below once it’s done. Then I cut it in half lengthwise and chop into small pieces. Then throw it all into a bowl. Mince 2-3 garlic cloves and throw that into the bowl… I just use a garlic crusher. Add 1 tablespoon of brown vinegar (malt vinegar or Chinese dumpling vinegar) and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, followed by a generous drizzle of sesame oil. Since my son usually eats this with me, I don’t add any chilli oil to it… but I find this is a nice touch. I really enjoy the garlic/vinegar/soy/sesame oil combination and will generally use this as a salad dressing. Feel free to add onions, tomatoes or lettuce to it.

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