Technique: Smack

It sounds rather funny, but I’ve gone with “smack” for the Mandarin word pai for lack of a better translation. This technique may appear unusual to a western cook, but it’s rather like using a meat tenderizer on vegetables (and it’s a great way to get rid of some extra stress).

The method is used when you want to create irregular pieces of vegetables that will be salted to drain out excess liquid and then marinated – the jagged sides expose more surface area. For examples of recipes using this technique, see the second recipe under Variations on a Cucumber Theme and Sweet & Sour Radishes.

  1. If you aren’t up for a lot of spraying juices, place the vegetable under a clean kitchen towel. If you need to collect the juices for later use, place the vegetable in a plastic bag.
  2. Using the flat side of the knife blade, smack the vegetable until it cracks open. If your knife blade is not wide, you may want to use a rubber mallet or even a hammer, but you will need to take care not to smash the vegetable completely – the goal is just to crack it open.
  3. Cut the vegetable into bite-sized pieces.
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