According to The New York Times, smashing cucumbers is all the rage in the city this summer, with a steady increase in sightings of smashed cucumber salads appearing on menus all over Manhattan.
What did cucumbers ever do to anyone?
It's all about the flavours. Already common practice in Asian cooking it’s easy to see why cucumbers are taking the brunt of the rage. Whilst slippery sliced cucumbers find it hard to hold on to their dressing, a smashed cucumber positively embraces flavour, soaking up dressings into its smashed craggy wounds. “It’s cool how just changing the way you break down an ingredient completely changes the way it feels and tastes,” chef Danny Bowien, at Mission Chinese Food on the Lower East Side tells the NY Times.
How to get smashing:
Getting started on smashing is very simple. This is what you will need:
Ingredients: very firm, fresh cucumbers. The Tasting Table recommend Japanese or Persian cucumbers which have thin skin and are ultra crunchy. This is not the time to use that coy cucumber that’s been lurking at the back of the fridge for the last month.
Equipment: Whatever works for you; rolling pin, wooden mallet, knife, side of a meat cleaver or even bare fists if you dare.
Using the knife technique is similar to crushing garlic. Use the widest part of the blade to smash down on the cucumber moving along the cucumber until it's sufficiently defeated and cracks open, usually into four pieces.
When you've finished smashing your cucumbers you can break them up with your hands or slice them up. Most recipes will recommend a sprinkling of salt at this stage to draw out the excess water and retain the shiny cucumber colour.
Photo: Asian Cucumber Salad courtesy of The Woks of Life
Patrick Yan also has a neat video to show you how to smash your cucumber and create a garlic cucumber salad:
If you like cucumbers you'll love this marinated cucumber recipe