There is a season: Turning a massive cuke into salad with noodles

  • Cucumber pieces full of flavor poised on the brink of crushed salad-hood. MOLLY PARR

Published: 9/15/2023 5:16:55 PM
Modified: 9/15/2023 5:16:24 PM

This week’s column is a group effort, with ingredients from a neighbor and a recipe from my sister. Because of the extra help, I have not one but two dishes to share. Together they make a quick and easy weeknight meal.

First, the ingredient, a massive cucumber, came from my neighbor’s garden. She remembered I had written about the loss of our CSA due to July’s floods, and brought over a basket of tomatoes, a zucchini and two cucumbers, including a monster that must have weighed about three pounds.

I thought the best use for the mammoth cuke would be this cucumber salad that my sister had made during our family’s annual Fourth of July vacation in Maine. So I texted her and convinced her to drop everything and double-check the measurements for me. (As it turns out “everything” was a bowl of beet watermelon gazpacho with roasted tofu croutons, which is a recipe for another day.)

This salad is a good one to involve small helpers in the kitchen. They can peel the cucumber and remove the seeds from each half using a small spoon once you’ve sliced it vertically. And they can smash the cucumber pieces you’ve cut (hopefully on the bias) using a rolling pin and a sealed Ziploc bag.

The rest of the ingredients are the usual suspects, like sesame oil, white sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar. But there is also a little heat. Use what you like, such as some (or all of a) fresh red hot chile pepper, red pepper flakes, or chile crisp. I also use a shake of white pepper, something very common in Asian cooking that I first purchased for hot and sour soup years ago. Use black pepper if that’s what you have on hand.

A girlfriend made this salad last night using her late summer/early fall cucumbers and she reported that she used five small ones, as opposed to the monster cuke my neighbor gave me. She also said the banging of the cukes in the Ziploc was so loud that it woke up one of her son’s stuffies, so make sure all stuffies are off the counter.

I paired the salad with a super simple noodle dish, almost an asian pasta carbonara with egg yolks, soy sauce and nori (dried seaweed). MeeraSodha, the recipe’s author, credits a popular Malaysian spot in London that serves this for breakfast, although I enjoy it at lunch and dinnertime as well when I’m pressed for time.

All in all, here are two recipes full of flavor and satisfaction that you can make on a weeknight in less than half an hour.

Smashed Cucumber Salad


One large cucumber, or three to five mini (Persian cucumbers)

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon white sugar

One garlic clove, grated on a microplane

Dash of salt and white pepper

As much heat as you want — this includes red chile pepper, red chile flakes or chile crisp


If you are usually a regular cucumber: Peel the cucumber, slice it vertically, and remove the seeds using a small spoon. Slice cucumber into 1-inch pieces, hopefully on the bias.

If you are using small cucumbers: slice the cucumbers into 2 centimeter rounds.

Add cucumbers to a Ziploc bag. Seal the bag. Smash with a rolling pin for about 5 seconds.

Gather all the other ingredients and add them to a large bowl. Whisk everything together. Add smashed cucumber. Stir to combine. Serve.

Breakfast at Shuko’s from East by MeeraSodha

Sodha notes “that the best noodles to use here are the plump, partially cooked “straight to wok” noodles. If you use the dried noodle, you’ll only need 7 oz. and a tablespoon of additional water to loosen when you mix them with the egg yolk and soy.” However, I’ve made this dish with whatever Japanese noodles I’ve had in the house — such as buckwheat soba noodles — and have only had excellent results. This serves two.


1.5 x 7 oz packages straight to wok udon noodles

2 large egg yolks

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

Optional: 1 sheet of nori, shredded


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, then drop in the noodles and cook until they are al dente. This should take around 3 minutes for the “straight to wok” udons or 4 to 7 minutes if you’re using the dried type. (Or follow the directions on the noodle package in your hand.)

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the egg yolks and soy sauce. When the noodles are cooked, drain well and immediately add to the egg mixture, mixing really well so they are coated in the sauce. Divide the noodles between the two bowls, and sprinkle with shredded nori if you like. Serve immediately.

Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She’s been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. Send questions or comments to


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