This recipe is inspired by Pai Huang Gua, a dish that originated in the Sichuan region of China. Smashing the cucumbers creates lots of nooks and crannies for the dressing to cling to—plus, it's fun!
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SMASH: Place cucumbers in bag and seal. Smash with skillet until each cucumber is flattened and split into 3 or 4 spears.
TEAR AND SALT: Place colander in bowl. Tear cucumber spears into small pieces and place in colander. Add salt to cucumbers and toss to combine. Let cucumbers sit for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.
MAKE DRESSING: While cucumbers sit, stir vinegar, soy sauce, oil, and sugar in second bowl with wooden spoon until sugar has dissolved.
Why smash the cucumbers instead of neatly slicing them? When you smash them up, you expose more surface area and create little nooks and crannies that the flavorful dressing can sneak into.