You can also use chicken in this recipe. I made a marinade for the pork chops with soy sauce to compliment the cucumber salad and the dishes worked nicely together. The herbs and lemon really wake up the pork and give it more flavor. I ended up with extra dressing, so I added some champagne vinegar and a bit more extra virgin olive oil and made a delightful salad dressing for later use on salads.
Called pai huang gua in China, the smashed cucumber salad is very popular there and is trendy in Manhattan, served at many restaurants. It is the perfect, cool salad for summer and is easy to make. As opposed to the slick surface of a sliced cucumber, smashing them opens them up and coarsens their surfaces to make them better to hold the dressing. Smashing also helps to remove their seeds.
Seared Pork Chops
4 bone-in or boneless one inch thick pork chops
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
Pepper, as needed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Mix ingredients and add pork. Marinate 2 hours to overnight. Heat a cast iron pan on high and add enough extra virgin olive to coat bottom. When hot, remove marinade from chops and reserve. Cook chops about two minutes per side, until brown. Lower heat to low, add marinade, cover and cook five minutes. Check while cooking and add 1-2 tablespoons of water if liquid is needed. Plate chops and drizzle any remaining liquid on top.
Garlic and Herb Dressing
¼ cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chives
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt, more as needed
Black pepper, as needed
⅛ teaspoon chile flakes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the herbs, garlic, lemon, 1 teaspoon salt and chile flakes. Stir in 1/2 cup oil or use a small food processor to combine ingredients.
Plate chops and add dressing on top.
If you have leftover dressing, add champagne or white wine vinegar and more olive oil, if needed, to make salad dressing for later use.
Smashed Chinese Cucumber Salad
2 pounds thin-skinned cucumbers like English, Kirby or Persian
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil (I use peanut oil only when I cook Asian dishes and like Loriva roasted. They don’t add chemicals and it tastes fantastic; refrigerate for long shelf life.)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Small handful whole cilantro leaves, for garnish
2 teaspoons toasted white and/or black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
Rinse cucumbers and pat dry. Remove ends. Cut crosswise into pieces about 4 inches long. Cut each piece in half lengthwise.
Place a piece of cucumber cut side down. Lay the blade of a large knife flat on top the cucumber and smash down lightly with your other hand. The skin will crack, the flesh will break down and the seeds will separate. Repeat on other pieces. Break or slice diagonally into bite-size pieces, leaving the seeds behind. Scrape any additional seeds off. You can also remove seeds first, cutting them away with a knife, then smashing cucumbers.
Place the cucumber pieces in a strainer and toss with salt. Place something heavy on top of the cucumbers to serve as a weight and let drain 30 minutes or in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine salt and rice vinegar. Stir in sesame oil, peanut oil and soy sauce, garlic and peppers.
When ready to serve, rinse cucumbers well and shake to drain off any remaining liquid and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss. Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds and serve.
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