Smashed Cucumber Salad with Yuba

Chewy, slippery tofu skin offers textural intrigue in this refreshing Chinese appetizer.

  • Serves



By Jing Gao

Published on January 31, 2024

The simple smashed cucumber salad is a perennially popular appetizer in Chinese restaurants, but Jing Gao, founder of chili crisp brand Fly By Jing, likes to add layers to zhuzh it up. One of her favorite ways to incorporate textural contrast is to toss in slippery, chewy pieces of yuba, or tofu skin. Look for the ingredient in dried sheets at your local Asian supermarket, or online. If you can find fresh tofu skin, that also works well (just skip step one).

Adapted with permission from The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp: Spicy Recipes and Stories from Fly By Jing’s Kitchen by Jing Gao, copyright © 2023. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Featured in “A New Kind of Asian Grocer Has Arrived,” by Megan Zhang.


  • 5 oz. (¾ cup) dried or fresh yuba (tofu skin) sheets, cut into 1-in. pieces
  • 3 small cucumbers
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1¼ tsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Sichuan chili crisp
  • 1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (1 Tbsp.)
  • Sesame seeds and finely chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish


Step 1

If using dried yuba, fill a medium pot about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the yuba and cook over high heat until they soften and turn pale, 4–5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Step 2

Cut the cucumbers crosswise into approximately 3-inch lengths, then halve each piece lengthwise. Using the flat side of a cleaver, smash the cucumbers to crack the skin. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and discard. Cut the cucumbers into bite-size pieces (about 1 inch). Transfer to a large bowl, add the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the sugar, and toss well. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours. (This will extract some water from the cucumbers.)

Step 3

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the chili crisp, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and the remaining sugar.

Step 4

Drain the cucumbers of any extracted water. Add the tofu skin and the chili-crisp mixture and toss well to mix. Transfer to a platter, garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro, and serve.

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