Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chinese Cucumber and Radish Salads

One more post covering the cooking class in Beijing - two quick, yummy summer salads. The cucumber salad is actually one of my favorites when I go out for dinner in China, it's always good, and very refreshing. The radish was new for me, but perhaps it's a regional Beijing or Northern China specialty as I found it that night in my roadside restaurant.

The radishes we got where HUGE! They were watermelon radish, just about 10 times bigger than any I had seen before. And like all watermelon radishes, jut very beautiful to look at. They are hard to find, at least in California, but a daikon or just small radishes will work just as well.


Preparation for both of them was very straight forward: The cucumbers first got a good smack with the cleaver, to break them up a little and allow them to take the dressing a little better. Then they were cut in 1/2" cubes. Very easy and quick.


The cook helping Chunyi was very good with the cleaver, as you can see from her slicing and julienning the radish. I think I can do it with my Santoku knife, but there is no chance I can do it with a Chinese cleaver. But then I guess if that's what you cut everything with you improve over the years :-)

The dressings: The cucumber got very finely smashed garlic, run through mortar and pestle for a minute or so. We added salt, light soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and a bit of chili paste - pour it over the salad and mix. The radish was even easier, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of sugar, and vinegar to taste. Done!


The bowls on the left show the salads before the dressing, the right is with the dressing. Resist the urge to add sesame or other oil to the radish salad - I tried it and there really isn't any improvement to the taste, it's much better oil free, for a nice fresh and clean taste, perfect for an accompaniment to a summer dinner.


  1. What a beautiful salad! I've planted a couple of different varities of radish this summer, hopefully they'll come up!

  2. Nancy - beautiful and yummy! I'm so envious that you're growing your food, I have the opposite of a green thumb. That being said last year's potatoes are doing well (I never got them out of their containers because I assumed they did as badly as the rest of my plants), so perhaps I'll have a potato harvest this year....
    Any watermelon radish amongst the ones you planted?

  3. Beautiful Silke. Is that you chopping the radishes so thinly? What a great chopper you are, they are so thin!!
    I like daikon but I don't like red radishes, raw or cooked. It taste too strong for me. I wonder if the salad dressing tame the flavor down?

  4. Jenn - Sorry, I completely missed your comment! No, that wasn't me chopping, that was the helper at the cooking school I was at.
    Radishes get more mellow when you salt them and leave them a while, and yes, that dressing definitely takes the sting out.