Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

I am a big cucumber fan — the type that will take a bite straight from a whole cuke - but you don’t have to be to enjoy this salad.

Smashed Cucumber Salad is a Chinese side dish, and I’ve adapted that dish into a recipe I can make any old day. The salad base is still just cucumber (a GREAT way to mix it up when you’re in a salad rut). The dressing is where the rubber really meets the road here. You could use this dressing on other salads, too — but I never have leftovers 😁

The perfect balance of salt, acid, and sweet: rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey come together here. I haven’t yet watched Salt Fat Acid Heat (or read it), but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a dish that balances all of it’s flavors well. What do you think — should I jump in and watch the show?

Either way, this dressing is golden. Garlic and chili flakes add punch. Cucumber is plain and simple; but simple is just right with the dressing.

Smashed Cucumber Salad
Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

Published April 2, 2019 by
   Print This Recipe

Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 50 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2-3 english cucumbers 
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes 
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or white sugar)
  • 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juice or minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 
  • Garnish: 1 tablespoon minced cilantro, 2-3 small sprigs of mint (optional), lime wedges (optional)

  • Directions:

    1. Slice ends off of cucumber, and slice in half the long direction. Lay halved cucumbers seed-side down on a cutting board. Roll a rolling pin over cucumbers, smashing them just until the start to crack. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
    2. Place cucumber in a bowl and generously sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
    3. Place avocado oil, garlic and chili flakes in a small sauté pan and warm over medium heat until garlic begins to sizzle. Stir occasionally, and allow garlic to turn golden. Remove from heat.
    4. In a jar, combine honey, rice vinegar, ginger juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and the chili-garlic oil. Stir (or close jar and shake) to combine.
    5. Toss cucumber in dressing. Top with minced cilantro, and optionally garnish with mint and lime wedges. Serve.

    Comment

    Thai Basil Beef

    Thai Basil Beef

    When our friends Thomas and Leah showed up at the house a weeks ago, the first thing they said was they had been thinking about getting Thai food for dinner. This was accepted with a round of “Oo, great idea!” and “Yesss,” comments, until someone remembered it was Sunday: our favorite Thai restaurant is closed on Sundays. This is something we typically remember when we are already halfway there.  

    But it was settled, in my mind at least: we would have Thai for dinner. I would just have to make it myself. I’m no stranger to making Thai Curry — we have it at home all the time. But for this dinner I wanted to 1) use up some ingredients already in the fridge and 2) learn to make something new.

    I came up with a list of four options and then made everyone vote. My mom always said I was “very diplomatic.” 👩🏻‍⚖️ When the votes were in, I got to work: garlic, Thai basil, and even a few Thai chilies. 

    Thai Basil Beef
    Thai Basil Beef

    The one place I cut corners when making Thai food is the fish sauce: it’s just not an ingredient I have in the house, and as someone who didn’t grow up on it, I don’t miss the fishy notes when they’re not there. That’s just me— feel free to use fish sauce in place of the Worcestershire sauce in this recipe for a more traditional experience. 

    Besides, my favorite part is the basil. Plenty of basil, and I’m all smiles. This summer I’ll be growing a BUNCH of Thai basil. I just love how fresh, sweet, and complex the flavor is.

    Serve this Thai Basil Beef over the Instant Pot Coconut Rice published in the blog last week!

    Thai Basil Beef
    Thai Basil Beef

    Thai Basil Beef

    Published April 24, 2018 by
       |     Print This Recipe

    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 pound ground beef, 90% preferred, but 80% will work
    • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
    • 1/4 yellow onion, diced small
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce OR 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
    • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
    • 2-5 Thai chilies, depending on spice tolerance, minced (if you really don’t like spicy food, skip these all together)
    • 1 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves 
    • Lime wedges, for serving 
    • Green onions for garnish
    • 2 cups coconut rice for serving

    Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat until it glistens. Add onion and garlic to the pan, and sauté until onion is transparent. Then, add beef to the pan. Cook beef, breaking it into crumbles with a wooden spatula, until browned evenly.
    2. NOTE: If you are your 80%/20% or other high-fat percentage beef, you may want to pour off the excess fat at this time, as it does not emulsify with the sauce super well.
    3. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce, and maple syrup, and stir. Then, add minced Thai chilies. Cook for 1 more minute, and then add basil, allowing basil to wilt. Stir into beef mixture.
    4. Serve hot over coconut rice, garnished with sliced green onions and lime wedges.

    Comment

    Instant Pot Coconut Rice

    Instant Pot Coconut Rice

    Soggy, strangely sweet, and topped with bland tofu, my first experience with coconut rice was terrible. It was also my first experience with tofu, and that probably didn’t help. Being seven years old didn’t really lean in my favor, either. I remember picking at my bowl and barely eating, even though the rule in our family was “you eat this now or you go hungry.” 

    I eventually learned to like tofu, but managed to steered clear of coconut rice for twenty years, traumatized by that experience. So, I’m not really sure what possessed me one day in February when I decided to make my own coconut rice. I shocked myself further when, halfway through the first bowl I thought, needs more coconut, and served myself seconds. 

    Instant Pot Coconut Rice
    Instant Pot Coconut Rice

    It turns out, I love coconut rice. That first sample was far too long ago for me to remember what was wrong with it. But, now I find myself on quite the coconut rice kick — it’s the perfect side for Thai dishes. 

    All you need is rice, water, coconut milk and a sprinkle of salt. I find that the salt is necessary because it keeps it savory rather than sweet. In other applications, maybe you would want to swing more sweet and in that case you could skip the salt.

    Of course, cooking it in an Instant Pot (affiliate link) is also key, which is the only way I cook rice because it’s fool proof and SO EASY. (I’m a home cook that tends to get distracted, or maybe just tried to juggle too many things at once. Cooking rice on the stove is a gamble: Will she burn it this time? But cooking rice in the Instant Pot is right on the mark every time, no matter how many other things I’m trying to do.)

    Instant Pot Coconut Rice goes wonderfully with this Thai Basil Beef, or any stir fry, really.

    Instant Pot Coconut Rice

    Instant Pot Coconut Rice

    Published April 24, 2018 by
       |     Print This Recipe

    Serves: 6   |    Total Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups jasmine rice 
    • 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
    • 1 cup water
    • 1-2 pinches salt 
    • 1/4 cup toasted coconut
    • Minced cilantro or green onions for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Add rice, coconut milk, water, and salt to Instant Pot (affiliate link!) and set to Rice setting with the vent turned to the sealed position. Timer should be set for 12 minutes.
    2. When timer goes off, open vent to release pressure. Serve hot topped with minced cilantro/green onions and/or toasted coconut.

    Comment