I have yet to meet a smacked cucumber salad I don’t like, whether it’s at my after-work go-to, Xi’an Famous Foods, or in my own kitchen. This smart technique—prevalent in many parts of Asia—is all about flavor. While sliced cucumbers reluctantly absorb dressing, smacked ones drink it right up. Here, I took the same template but swapped in summery zucchini for the cucumbers. While most raw zucchini recipes call for the vegetable to be sliced as thinly as possible—say, on a mandoline—in this case, a rolling pin takes care of most of the work. It’s the perfect method to introduce a big-personality dressing, with soy sauce, chile oil, black vinegar, and a smidge of sugar and garlic. And it’s pretty fun, too. —Emma Laperruque
chile crisp (or chile oil with its sediment)
1 1/2 teaspoons
large garlic clove, Microplaned or minced
zucchinis (totaling at about 12 ounces)
kosher or flaky salt (if needed)
Combine the soy sauce, chile crisp, black vinegar, sugar, and garlic in a medium bowl, and stir to combine.
Lay the zucchinis on a cutting board and smack with a rolling pin until they split, like a dropped watermelon at the grocery store. Now chop the smacked zucchinis into bite-size pieces with a knife. Add the zucchini to the bowl with the dressing and toss.
Taste and adjust as needed. Maybe you want the salt, or not. Maybe you want more soy sauce, or chile crisp, or vinegar, or sugar, or garlic. Adjust until it tastes very, very good to you. The longer it sits, the softer the zucchini will get, and the saucier.
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.