There are many versions for this popular Chinese salad. It is cool, crunchy, and bursting with flavor. This is a great salad to serve with spicy dish, or on a hot summer day.
Wash and dry the cucumbers. Place them on a chopping board, and cut crosswise into 3”-4” segments. With a mallet, flat end of a cleaver, rolling pin, or your palm, whack the segments until so that they burst open. Actually, it’s more like they collapse and split. Don’t over-smash.
Cut the cucumbers crosswise into bitesize pieces. You can cut them into diagonal slices to give a bit more of an Asian flare, and create more surface area.
Place the cucumbers in a colander. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and toss. Let stand for 20-30 minutes to let the salt help draw out the liquid so as not to dilute the dressing. Much of the salt also drains off.
Make the dressing by placing the following ingredients in a jar and shaking vigorously until emulsified: 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional), rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sweetener, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your pallet.
After draining, pat the cucumbers dry with a paper towel. Put into a bowl and add the cilantro (if using). Pour over the dressing. Add sesame seeds or chopped peanuts (saving some to sprinkle over just before serving), and toss to combine. Taste again, and adjust seasonings further if desired. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. The longer it sits the more dilute the dressing becomes.
Serve in a pretty glass bowl or attractive salad plate and sprinkle with a bit more sesame seed or chopped peanut.
Although it becomes more like a pickled vegetable dish, you may keep this for many days in the refrigerator.