5 Minute Recipes/ Asian Recipes/ Entrees / Appetisers/ Recipes/ Salad/ Side Dish/ Super Simple

Smashed Cucumber Salad – Pai Huang Gua

12/07/2023

Prepare to be amazed by this incredible smashed cucumber salad recipe! This impressive salad features crunchy smashed cucumbers, fried peanuts, and a tantalising garlic-infused soy sauce drizzle. Fall in love with the refreshing flavours and textures of Pai Huang Gua.

Refreshing smashed cucumber salad in a white bowl with chopsticks.

Why We Love This

This is the perfect side salad to serve alongside heavy Asian dishes like spicy miso ramen or gochujang stew.

The combo of crunchy smashed cucumber and roasted peanuts is out of this world. You can’t beat the blend of crunchy texture and sweet, savoury flavour.

Related: Japanese Wafu Salad / Shopska Salad / Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad

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Smashed cucumber and peanuts in a white bowl with wooden chopsticks.

What is Smashed Cucumber Salad? 

Smashed cucumber salad, also known as Pai Huang Gua, is a popular Chinese side dish usually enjoyed as a refreshing and cooling salad during summer. Featuring cucumbers that are smashed and salted to soften and draw out extra water, they’re then tossed together with fried peanuts and a soy based sauce. You may also find it as a starter or snack alongside heavier dishes at Chinese restaurants.

The unique technique of smashing the cucumbers allows them to then soak up the flavours of the sauce for an extra burst of flavour in every bite.

Where We Learned This

We were inspired by one of our favourite Chinese places in Adelaide – Li’s Rice Noodle Bar. We’ll usually have a plate of their smashed cucumber salad alongside our mains, which is always so refreshing against the spice and heat of the noodles.

What You’ll Need

  • Cucumber – We used a continental cucumber, but feel free to sub with Lebanese, Japanese or smaller Asian style curly cucumbers. As long as the weight is there, they’ll work for the dish.
  • Peanuts – We love using peanuts in their shell. When roasted it adds a lovely light bitterness to the overall flavours and works really well in the salad. Sub with raw peanuts, and avoid salted peanuts if you can, or the dish will be too salty.
  • Salt & Sugar – The perfect balance of salty and sweet. Use kosher or sea salt to draw out the water in the cucumber, and the sugar to balance the use of the salt.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is a must, and chopped finely, so you get those nice crispy bits throughout the salad.
  • Sesame Oil – We love adding this for a little extra flavour, you can sub with homemade sesame oil or homemade rayu chilli oil if you’d like to add heat along with the sesame oil.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar – Rice wine vinegar or white vinegar are popular options, but you can also use apple cider vinegar, brown vinegar, or a mix of different vinegars to tweak the flavour just how you like it.
  • Soy Sauce – Any soy sauce will work well for this dish. Feel free to sub with tamari.
  • Oyster Sauce – This is a sweet and salty sauce that gives teriyaki chicken a little extra kick of flavour. Regular oyster sauce is, of course, made from oysters, but it’s possible to get vegetarian “oyster sauce” made from mushroom extract if you prefer.
Ingredients laid out ready to make smashed cucumber salad.

How to Make Pai Huang Gua

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

  1. In a small dish mix together all the sauce ingredients including the sesame oilrice wine vinegarsoy sauce and oyster sauce and give it a quick mix.
  2. Next, wash the cucumber then lay on a wooden board or benchtop and smash lightly with rolling pin.
  3. Slice the cucumber into 1 cm / ½ inch chunks and place in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour over the salt and sugar, giving it a quick mix to coat them, then allow to sit for a few minutes so the salt can soften the cucumber slightly and bring out the juices.
  1. Meanwhile, heat half the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat, pour in the peanuts and roast until they’re lightly browned on a few sides and start making a crackling sound (around 3 minutes). Remove the peanuts and place on top of the cucumber, leaving as much oil as you can in the pan.
  2. Add the remaining oil and garlic to the saucepan and quickly fry for 30 seconds or until nice and crispy.
  3. Pour the fried garlic into the sauce mix.
  4. Pour the sauce over the cucumber and peanuts, mix together and serve.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Storage – Best enjoyed fresh. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, but be aware that the flavour and texture will change over time. It’ll also be a lot juicier as the salt will continue to draw out water from the cucumber.
  • Smashing – It’s a balance to hit the cucumber hard enough to “crack” it open, but not so hard that it turns to mush!
  • Leftover Cucumber? Make a Greek salad next!

FAQs

What should I pair this salad with?

This salad is the perfect partner to noodle or rice dishes such as miso ramen, nasi goreng or yaki udon.

Can I make it in advance?

This salad is best when freshly made, so we don’t recommend making it in advance. Over time, the salt continues to draw out liquid from the cucumber, changing the texture and flavour.

Variations

  • Add Heat – Add a small amount of your favourite chilli paste such as lao gan ma, doubanjiang, chilli powder or chilli oil.
Chopsticks hold a piece of smashed cucumber and roasted peanut.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Pai Huang Gua in a bowl with chopsticks.

Smashed Cucumber Salad – Pai Huang Gua

Prepare to be amazed by this incredible smashed cucumber salad recipe! This impressive salad features crunchy smashed cucumbers, fried peanuts, and a tantalising garlic-infused soy sauce drizzle. Fall in love with the refreshing flavours and textures of Pai Huang Gua.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Course: Appetiser, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4 Side Serves
Calories: 107kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Ingredients

For the sauce

For the cucumber salad

Instructions

  • In a small dish mix together all the sauce ingredients including the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and oyster sauce and give it a quick mix.
    2 tsp sesame oil, ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • Next, wash the cucumber then lay on a wooden board or benchtop and smash lightly with rolling pin. Then slice up into 1 cm / ½ inch chunks and place in a medium bowl. Pour over the salt and sugar, giving it a quick mix to coat them, then allow to sit for a few minutes so the salt can soften the cucumber slightly and bring out the juices.
    1 cucumber, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar
  • Meanwhile, heat half the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat, pour in the peanuts and roast until they’re lightly browned on a few sides and start making a crackling sound (around 3 minutes). Remove the peanuts and place on top of the cucumber, leaving as much oil as you can in the pan.
    2 tbsp vegetable oil, ⅓ cup peanuts
  • Add the remaining oil and garlic to the saucepan and quickly fry for 30 seconds or until nice and crispy. Add it to the sauce mix.
    2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 garlic cloves
  • Pour the sauce over the cucumber and peanuts, mix together and serve.

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Storage – Best enjoyed fresh. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, but be aware that the flavour and texture will change over time. It’ll also be a lot juicier as the salt will continue to draw out water from the cucumber.
  • Smashing – It’s a balance to hit the cucumber hard enough to “crack” it open, but not so hard that it turns to mush!
  • Add Heat – Add a small amount of your favourite chilli paste such as lao gan ma, doubanjiang, chilli powder or chilli oil.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Smashed Cucumber Salad – Pai Huang Gua
Amount per Serving
Calories
107
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Sodium
 
960
mg
42
%
Potassium
 
211
mg
6
%
Carbohydrates
 
6
g
2
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
54
IU
1
%
Vitamin C
 
3
mg
4
%
Calcium
 
29
mg
3
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks

Smashed Cucumber Salad - Pai Huang Gua

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