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
2 to 4
chile crisp (or chile oil with its sediment)
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 is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.