Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad Recipe Posted by on Jul 8, 2020 in Culture

Summer is upon us, which means the weather is getting hotter and hotter (天气越来越热 tiān qì yuè lái yuè rè). On those hot summer days, it’s nice having a cool, refreshing snack. There’s perhaps no better dish for this time of year than a smashed cucumber salad (拍黄瓜 pāi huáng guā). You may also see it on a menu listed as cold cucumber (凉拌黄瓜 liáng bàn huáng guā). This is one of my personal favorite Chinese dishes and one you can find all over the country. It’s also quite easy to make it yourself!

Chinese smashed cucumber salad.

Ingredients (主料 zhǔ liào)

zhè shì yī gè hěn jiǎn dān de cài
This is a very simple dish to make

You really don’t need many ingredients at all. There are many variations of this dish out there, but here are the most common ingredients you’ll find in it:

黄瓜 2條
huáng guā 2 tiáo
2 pieces of cucumber

盐 1 茶匙
yán 1 chá chí
1 teaspoon of salt

糖 2 茶匙
táng 2 chá chí
2 teaspoons of sugar

蒜头 2 粒
suàn tóu 2 lì
2 garlic cloves

小辣椒 2-3个
xiǎo là jiāo
2-3 small chili peppers

芝麻油 1 茶匙
zhī ma yóu 1 chá chí
1 teaspoon sesame oil

醋 2 汤匙
cù 2 tāng chí
2 tablespoons of vinegar

酱油 2 茶匙
jiàng yóu 2 chá chí
2 teaspoons soy sauce

xiāng cài

dà cōng
green onion

Recipe (食谱 shí pǔ)

If you’re wondering why it’s called a “smashed cucumber salad,” it’s because one of the keys to this classic Chinese dish is actually smashing the cucumber!

bǎ huáng guā pāi liè, qiè jiàn
Smash the cucumber and cut it into pieces.

You can do this by laying the blade of a large knife flat on the cucumber. Once you’ve smashed them, you can cut the cucumber into little pieces.

jiā 1 chá chí yán, bàn yún, rán hòu rài huáng guā chū shuǐ.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt, mix well, then wait for the cucumber to drain.

You can use a strainer to do this. One trick is to put a plastic bag full of ice on top of the cucumbers. This takes about 15 minutes.

qiè dà suàn hé là jiāo
Cut the garlic and peppers.

You’ll want to mince them both real good. If you’re not into the spicy stuff, you can skip out on the chili peppers. You can also chop up some coriander and green onion to add if you like, although I rarely use these.

把醋 2 汤匙, 酱油 2 茶匙, 和 2 茶匙糖拌匀
bǎ cù 2 tāng chí, jiàng yóu 2 chá chí hé 2 chá chí táng bàn yún
Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Make sure you’ve drained all the liquid from the cucumber and then you can add everything to the bowl. Toss in the sesame oil as well and mix it up real good!

There you have it – the perfect dish for a hot summer day. This is one that you can get a bit creative with depending on your tastes. I like to add a bit more garlic, for example.

My wife likes to cook a bit of Sichuan peppercorn (花椒 huā jiāo) in the oil first just to infuse it with that extra spice. She removes the peppercorns before pouring the oil over the cucumbers, because they aren’t very pleasant to eat!

There are actually quite a few good YouTube videos where you can follow along with a recipe for this and practice your Chinese listening/reading at the same time. Here’s a good one that’s pretty similar to the recipe I gave:

I’m not kidding when I say I’ve probably eaten this dish hundreds of times. I think we order it just about every time it’s on the menu! I’d love to hear what your go-to Chinese dish for summer time is. Leave a comment and respond to the question below to let me know!

xià tiān de shí hòu, nǐ zuì xǐ huān chī shén me
What is your favorite food in summer?

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. Peter Simon:

    Hi Sasha, please explain. I don’t understand how one can cut into pieces something which is already smashed. Smashing leaves nothing to be cut into peaces behind – it is already pulp. Have I misunderstood anything?
    I also have a request. Do you happen to have a recipe for dan hua nan gua by any chance? It used to be one of my simple favourites at the restaurant of the college, but can’t find it in Chinese restaurants in Europe, and my Chinese friend doesn’t have the recipe either.
    Kind regards,
    Peter S.

    • sasha:

      @Peter Simon Sorry I should have been a bit clearer with the details but figured the video would show it well enough. You basically “smash” the cucumber with the side of a knife just to break it up a bit. Doing so doesn’t really cut it up into little pieces, though, which is what you need to make the salad. It’s a funny name, I know… one of those Chinese names that translates a bit funny into English. But then when you make it you definitely get why it’s “smashed.” Have you ever tried it?

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