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Japanese smashed cucumber salad

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Japanese cuisine is so much more than sushi, it consists of robata grilling, ramen and udon soups, teriyaki cooking and of course the very entertaining hibachi. However, the Japanese have also developed a number of delicate pickles to help gourmands clear their palate between bites, the most famous being the pink pickled ginger. The concept is to have something fresh, and acid to clear your taste buds from the rich flavors and oils, so you can taste the dish again in all its glory.

This crushed cucumber recipe is another one of those palate cleanser bites, it is fresh and delicate. This is a simple and fresh salad. The technique of lightly smashing the cucumbers with a pestle allows the garlic to infuse the cucumbers. The pickled sushi ginger adds an additional layer of freshness to the salad. This is a perfect palate cleanser salad. I served it with a Japanese ginger and garlic chicken. The fresh and crunchy cucumbers are infused with the garlic, and the salad worked well with the richly flavored grilled meat.

Like every recipe I have cooked from Diana Henry, this recipe is absolutely delicious. Subtle flavors dominate this meal, but the spices are balanced. This was my first Diana Henry cookbook, and after making a couple of recipes from it, I was addicted to her cooking. There are flavors and cuisines from a round the world and her writing style is fun and easy. Like this recipe, the dishes step away from the ordinary and are just amazing.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


2 baby cucumbers, peeled, the inner seeds scooped out, if desired, and cut into half circles

2 garlic cloves, minced

Sea salt, to taste

2 tablespoons Japanese pickled sushi ginger, finely shredded

Mint leaves or shiso leaves, torn

Pound the cucumbers with a pestle till they are bruised. Break them apart with your hands into pieces.

Crush the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle. Massage the cucumbers with the garlic and salt. Put the cucumbers in a ziploc bag, squeeze out the air and put into the fridge for 10-20 minutes.

To serve, put the cucumbers into a bowl. Mix the shredded pickled sushi ginger into the mix and top with the mint or shiso leaves. Serve.

Note: If you prefer, and for a nicer looking dish, you can scoop out the inner seeds of the cucumbers. However, I do not like to water food, so I always kee them. It look a bit messier, but the taste is not any different.

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