I have been making these "smashed cucumbers with ginger" incessantly, ever since I discovered the recipe in Saveur magazine in the summer of 2008. They're super easy and can be made just a couple of hours before you want to serve them. Great in hot weather as well as an excellent foil for spicy winter roasts, soups and stews.
Though the original recipe calls for kirby cucumbers I've used a number of varieties and they all work equally well. Depending on the size of the cukes, I will seed them or not. But I always take a vegetable peeler and get rid of most of the skin, leaving thin dark green stripes for drama.
4 kirby cucumbers
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1⁄2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1. Cut cucumbers into irregular chunks. The original recipe said to make them about 2" long and 1⁄4" thick, but I cut them into biggish — but still bite-size — chunks. Then put the cukes into a colander and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Mix, and set aside at room temp for about an hour.
2. Meanwhile, julienne the ginger. Put it into a medium bowl that you can use to make the dressing. I typically use a medium plastic bowl or container with a lid. Add the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and garlic. Toss to combine.
3. After the cucumbers have been draining for an hour, gently squeeze them to extract the excess liquid, then pat dry with paper towels. Add cucumbers to the bowl with the ginger dressing. Shake periodically to make sure all the cukes are coated with the dressing.
4. Let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to come together.
SERVES 4, allowing one good size cucumber per person. Everyone loves them and I can stand at the fridge door and munch on them. So I always use a couple more cucumbers than people (if you get my meaning).
These would be perfect for a late fall dinner of grilled pork loin (brushed with a little hoisin sauce) and Altoon Sultan's Middle Eastern Potato Salad.