Smashed cucumber salad is a glorious, simple recipe that is more than the sum of its parts. Crisp cucumber and broccoli, infused with a lime, garlic and chilli dressing. Add cubes of chilled tofu for protein and contrast. Make it now.
Rinse the cucumbers and wrap in parchment paper or cling film. Use a rolling pin or meat mallet to smash the cucumber. I methodically move down the cucumber, trying to ensure it is evenly split open. Don't smash it to smithereens. Rather, just smash until it flattens a bit and splits. Remove the paper/plastic and cut into four long lengths, then into bite-sized pieces. No need to be pedantic though.
Pop the cucumber into a sieve and toss in the sugar and salt. Mix well and leave in a cool place for at least 15 minutes to drain. Thirty minutes is ideal.
While the cucumber is draining, make the marinade. Add the smashed and minced garlic, yuzu/lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, chilli flakes, Sichuan pepper and sesame oil to a wide mixing bowl and stir well.
Shake the cucumber of excess liquid and add to the bowl with marinade (it will not be salty or too sweet). Toss in the broccoli pieces, too. Turn it all over with your hands or thin bowled-spoon, and tip onto a serving dish. Shower with the toasted sesame seeds.
If you are adding the tofu, stir through with the chui chow chilli oil and lightly toss through the smashed cucumber and broccoli.
Serve immediately, or chill for up to half an hour. Serve with noodle dishes.
This cool salad is amenable to other protein choices - cooked prawns or even crab springs to mind.
To keep it more traditional, just use the cucumber and the marinade, plus the sesame seeds. the broccoli and tofu will make it more filling and nutritious, as well as give more textural dimension.