Cucumber Tofu Salad (凉拌青瓜腐竹 - 富足长青)
I believe that the best cucumber salad has to be smashed because it creates many bruises and allows the seasonings to infuse into the cucumber. Since I made this dish for the Chinese new year dinner, I intentionally paired it with bean curd sticks. Bean curd stick is called fuzhu in Chinese, which shares a similar pronunciation with wealth and rich (富足), so I named this dish fuzhu changqi (富足长青) to wish you long-lasting wealth for the new year.
50 grams of dried bean curd sticks, soaked in water for 2 hours
- 300g of cucumber
- 1/2 tsp of salt to draw moisture from the cucumber
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated
- 3-4 pieces of Thai bird eye chilies
- 2-3 tbsp of diced cilantro
1.5 tbsp of soy sauce
1.5 tbsp of vinegar
- 1.5 tbsp of hot chili oil
1/2 tsp of sugar
1.5 tsp of sesame oil
- Soak the dried bean curd sticks in clean water for 2 hours. If you don't have it, 150 grams of crumbled firm tofu will also do a good job for the salad.
- Cut the bean curd stick into short pieces, then blanch it in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Sieve it out and shake off the excess water.
- Smash the cucumber with a heavy-duty cleaver until the cucumber starts to split along the length. Then cut the cucumber diagonally into 2 inches long pieces. If you don't have a cleaver, use a rolling pin, a meat tenderizer, or your fist. It is best to use cucumbers that have thin skin and tender seeds; otherwise, you have to remove the seeds and peel the skin for better texture.
- Season the cucumber with salt for 30 minutes to draw out some moisture. Then, squeeze the cucumber and discard the excess liquid.
- To make the dressing, combine the grated garlic, cilantro, Thai bird eye chilies, soy sauce, hot chili oil, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil. For authenticity, we use Chinese black vinegar. However, considering it is not easy to find outside China, apple cider vinegar will be the best option as the slightly fruity flavor accomplishes the cucumber well.
- Mix the cucumber and bean curd stick with the dressing and serve as a side dish.