Xi'an's Famous Foods Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad is one of my favorite dishes in the whole world. It's crisp, bright, spicy, slightly sweet recipe that's full of flavor -- basically the most perfect easy side dish of all time! Disclaimer: I have no idea if this is how they make it at Xi'an's but I've tried to recreate it for years and this is the closest I can get!
I think about Xi'an's Famous Foods Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad at least once a week.
In my mind, it's the perfect side dish. It's crispy, spicy, sour, salty, slightly sweet, and fresh all at the same time.
And since I haven't been to NYC in over a year, I have been missing it so hard!
Although I have no idea how they make their Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad, after tons of trial and error, this is the closest I've ever gotten.
Besides the cucumber themselves, the main star of the show is Black Vinegar (Chinkiang Vinegar) and Crispy Chili Oil.
You will most likely have to visit an Asian market to get both of these ingredients but you could also amazon prime them through my affiliate links in this post.
If you don't already, once you have them though, you'll become obsessed.
You can use them on so many things! From Trader Joe's Soup Dumplings to these Chili Scallion Cumin Noodles -- and of course, so much more!
Ingredients & substitutions
(scroll to the bottom for the exact measurements and printable recipe card)
- Persian Cucumbers - I like using Persian cucumbers in this recipe because i think the texture is perfect and they're much easier to work with then the giant English cucumbers. If you're using english, just cut them into smaller pieces so you can smash them without hurting yourself. And if you're using regular slicing cucumbers, skin them and take out the seeds although this variety would be my last resort!
- Chinese Black Vinegar - There is nothing like Chinese Black Vinegar (also known as Chinkiang Vinegar). It's malty, mildly sweet and less acidic than other vinegars. It's hard to describe but it's SO DELICIOUS. It's the star in this recipe so I wouldn't suggest a substitution.
- Crispy Chili Oil - Don't even get me started on crispy chili oil! This Chinese condiment is also one of my favorite flavors in the world. There are many brands that make it and I have at least 3 on hand at all times (because we are that obsessed). LaoGanMa was the first one I fell in love with but I also love this one by S&B because it tastes so crispy and bright. I was recently sent this jar by Hot Crispy Oil and I think it's really really good and I also highly recommend it.
- Toasted Sesame Oil - Regular sesame oil would work, too.
- Sugar - Through my research, I've learned that most recipes would use turbinado sugar (aka sugar in the raw or cane sugar). But white table sugar will also work.
- Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar - I like using the seasoned variety of rice wine vinegar because it's slightly sweeter and more mild but you could def use regular rice wine vinegar, too.
How to make knock-off Xi'an famous foods smashed cucumber salad
To make Xi'an Famous Foods Chinese smashed cucumber salad, we'll start by prepping the cucumbers.
First, trim the ends off of the cucumbers then take the flat side of your knife and place it on top of one of the cucumbers.
Using the palm of your hand, carefully smash them like you would a clove of garlic. You'll want to repeat this for all the cucumbers.
Next, use your hands to tear the smashed cucumbers into pieces. Place them in a small bowl so there’s not a lot of excess room for them to float around.
Now fill the bowl half way with rice wine vinegar so that half of the cucumbers are submerged. Then fill the rest of the bowl with water. Give it a stir and let it rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, drain the liquid from the cucumbers - no need to pat them dry or anything.
Then add the black vinegar, the sesame oil, the sugar and the crispy chili oil on top.
I recommend starting with 1 tablespoon of the chili oil and then adding another after tasting because depending on the brand, sometimes it’s super spicy and sometimes it’s not.
Now stir everything together and let them rest for at 5 minutes before serving.
Can I make these ahead of time?
You could absolutely make this Chinese inspired smashed cucumber salad a few hours in advance.
They'll even keep in the fridge overnight without losing all their crunch.
However, if you want them at peak deliciousness, def make them 45 minutes before serving.
What to pair them with
I know that this is a traditional Chinese side dish, but I legit feel like they go with EVERYTHING!
Try them with this Ground Orange Chicken and Broccoli, this Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich.
They'd also be delish with this Thai Basil Tofu Bowl, or even this Miso Pork Ramen.
Save them for later
If you’d like to save this renditon of Xi'an's Famous Foods Chinese inspired smashed cucumber salad recipe for another time — go for it!
Just hover your mouse over the images and click "pin-it" or "save'! Then save it to whatever pinterest board you’d like and it’ll always be there for ya!
And if you don’t already, feel free to follow me on pinterest for tasty inspiration shared daily!
Xian Famous Foods Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad Recipe
Xi'an Famous Foods Chinese Inspired Smashed Cucumber Salad
- 6 small Persian cucumbers
- ½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar or less depending on the size of the bowl
- 2 tablespoon black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar turbinado is preferred
- 1-2 tablespoon crispy chili oil
- kosher salt
- Trim the ends off of the cucumbers then take the flat side of your knife and place it sideways on top of one cucumber. Using your hand, carefully smash them like you would a clove of garlic. Repeat for all cucumbers.
- Using your hands, tear the smashed cucumbers into pieces and place in a small bowl so there’s not a lot of excess room for them to float around.
- Fill the bowl half way with rice wine vinegar so that half of the cucumbers are submerged. Then fill the rest of the bowl with water. Give it a stir and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, drain the liquid from the cucumbers then add the black vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, a pinch of salt and the crispy chili oil on top. **I recommend starting with 1 tablespoon of the chili oil and then adding another after tasting because depending on the brand, sometimes it’s super spicy and sometimes it’s not.**
- Now stir everything together and let them rest for at 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Love this recipe! Only change I made was using Sambal instead of chili oil because I was out. So delicious!!
ditto on what Kathryn said
THIS IS SO DELICIOUS!! I love Asian food to begin with, but this gives me my fix in a healthy way. I’m so obsessed with this recipe