• 2 English cucumbers about 750 grams
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 150 g broccoli cut into slivers
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed and finely minced
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp lower sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes black pepper flakes are nice
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns toasted in a pan and ground to nubby powder – optional
  • 250 g organic tofu cubed – optional
  • 1 tbsp  chilli oil – optional
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds well-toasted – more to taste


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. While the cucumber is draining, make the marinade. Add the smashed and minced garlic, lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, chilli flakes, black pepper and sesame oil to a wide mixing bowl and stir well.
  4. 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.
  5. If you are adding the tofu, stir through with the chilli oil and lightly toss through the smashed cucumber and broccoli.
  6. Serve immediately, or chill for up to half an hour. Serve with noodle dishes.
Vintage blue and white Chinese bowl with cucumber salad and tofu