Olive Magazine
Smashed Cucumber Recipe with XO Sauce

Smacked cucumbers with cheat’s XO sauce

Published: October 18, 2018 at 12:14 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
    • + draining + chilling
  • Easy
  • Serves 4 as a side

Jazz up your cucumber salad with this simple recipe tossed in our cheat's spicy seafood sauce. Make this easy side dish for your next dinner party with friends



Originating in Hong Kong, XO is a spicy seafood sauce that makes everything taste better. Fact. It can be served on the side, or used within a recipe, and traditionally features dried shellfish (usually shrimp and/or scallops), air-dried ham and plenty of chillies. You won’t yet find it widely available in supermarkets, although savvy shoppers may have spotted it in their local Chinese grocer. But, chefs across the UK have awoken to its umami superpowers this year and are providing plenty of inspiration for how to use it. It can be stirred through rice, bound through noodles, flipped into stir fries, or smothered over meat, fish and veggies.

Chef James Cochran is serving line-caught mackerel with XO, cucumber and hazelnut at his new restaurant 1251 in Islington (read our review of 1251 restaurant here). Chantelle Nicholson, olive Chef Awards nominee, makes XO aubergine with sesame, kalibos cabbage and furikake (a Japanese seasoning) at Tredwells in Seven Dials. And 2017 MasterChef quarter finalist Alex Parker has been infusing his XO in a broth for dark soy gnocchi, scallops, clams and pickled cockles, for his Winchester supper club, Club Epicure.

Below is our cheat’s version transformed into a cracking side dish, with ingredients you can find in your local supermarket. It’s great served with grilled mackerel, roasted pork belly (if it’s soy-glazed, all the better) and crispy chicken wings.


  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 slices prosciutto, shredded
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a thumb-sized piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp shrimp paste
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp soft brown sugar
  • ½ tbsp rice vinegar


  • STEP 1

    Put the whole cucumbers onto a chopping board and hit with a rolling pin so they start to break apart. Cut each cucumber lengthways into long quarters, then into chunky pieces. Put into a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the salt.

  • STEP 2

    Put the vegetable oil into a small pan with the prosciutto and shallot, and cook gently for 10 minutes until crisp.

  • STEP 3

    Add the garlic, ginger, chilli flakes and shrimp paste, and cook for 2 minutes, then add the soy and sugar, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cool, then stir in the rice vinegar.

  • STEP 4

    Rinse the cucumbers under cold running water, drain really well, pat dry with kitchen paper then tip into a bowl or container with the XO sauce. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour, then serve.


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