Sister Grace stopped by this Sunday. Of the several options I gave her for dinner was spicy chicken and pan fried noodles. While this dish is a lot of work, it is one of my family’s favorite meals.
While this is a one dish meal, in Chinese culture—where we lived for several years—it is appropriate to honor a guest with a variety of foods. I decided I needed to make some more dishes. I made some smashed pickles as an hor d’oeuvrea and a mushroom side dish.
Karl’s Chinese Smashed Cucumber Pickles
2-4 Japanese or Persian cucumbers
Pinch black sesame seeds
Pinch white sesame seeds
1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients n a medium bowl.
Tip: If you like very strong flavors, you may use all black vinegar.
Note: Both dark soy sauce and black vinegar have distinctive strong flavors. If you prefer a lighter taste, you may use a light soy sauce and just the unseasoned rice vinegar.
2. Trim off the ends of the cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise.
Tip: If you add the last bit of the stem end of the cucumber, the bitterness will spread into your entire dish.
Note: These are bitter compounds in the last half inch of the stem end of cucumbers. This prevents animals from eating the entire seed producing fruit of the plant.
3. Lay the sliced cucumbers cut side down on a mat and smash them with a heavy spoon.
Tip: You are not trying to mash them to a pulp, you are just trying to break them up a bit.
4. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise again and slice the cucumber spears on the diagonal into 1 to 1½ inch pieces.
5. Toss the cucumber pieces in the sauce to coat.
6. Let the cucumbers marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Tip: It is better to let the pickles marinate overnight. Transfer the cucumbers and sauce to a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate it.
7. Drain the pickles and transfer them to a serving bowl;
8. Garnish the pickles with white and black sesame seeds.