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smashed cucumber & kelp salad

This lovely light, but flavor packed recipe is a first in what we hope is a long series of partnering with chefs far & wide to create mouth watering seaweed recipes for you and your loved ones using organic kelps, fresh & local ingredients, and lots of heart. 

To kick things off, we kept things close to home and got in touch with Chef Eva Mrak who resides in southern Maine and is the owner of Spoondrift Kitchen - a personal chef service that she calls her traveling kitchen. Eva has been a chef for over 12 years now and shares our love for creating community & ritual, and highlights nourishing ingredients that shine in their simplicity. Her recipes tell stories that are inspired by her travels, ancestors, and the farmers that grow her ingredients. She also hosts sunset dinner events on sailboats in the summertime which we highly encourage you to check out if you find yourself on the coast of Maine, and suppers at Maine farms. See her event schedule here.

Check back for more delicious kelp recipes with Chef Eva, and in the meantime, follow her on socials @thespoondriftkitchen.

Now, let’s dig in.

smashed cucumber & kelp salad with nautical farms sugar kelp flakes and fresh herbs

This smashed cucumber salad is inspired by a classic Szechuan cucumber dish. “Smashing” the cucumber pieces creates a unique texture for this salad. It also releases some of the bitter seeds and exposes more cucumber to absorb the flavors we add. This is a perfect summer time dish to use up all those cucumbers growing in Maine right now! In this dish, we add the Nautical Farms Kelp Flakes to put a Japanese-inspired twist on this dish, add a unique earthy salty flavor, and pack in a ton of nutrition to this summer salad. This salad is so forgiving, you don’t need to measure or be precise. Use whatever herbs you have in your garden, a hot sauce similar to sriracha, some sesame oil, and enjoy this salad that is both refreshing and cooling! Perfect for a hot day on its own or on the side with a summery chicken or fish.

Prep time: 15 minutes 
Makes: 2 servings


you’ll need:

  • 2 medium cucumbers (I prefer pickling or persian cucumbers over the standard English cucumbers for this recipe)
  • 3-6 big pinches of dried sugar kelp flakes
  • 1 pinch (about 1 tsp) salt. I recommend a flaky sea salt or Morton’s coarse kosher salt
  • About 1-2 Tbsp sesame oil for drizzling
  • About 1-2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • Sriracha, chili crisp, or sambal paste for spice to taste
  • ½ fresh lemon, squeezed
  • Equipment needed: knife, cutting board, bowl
Optional add-ins:
  • 1 handful of basil - I used a combo of Thai basil, Italian basil, and purple basil. For those growing your own basil in your garden, pick the flowers first! This will encourage the plant to keep growing and the leaves are delicious to eat in this salad
  • Sprigs of fresh chives, garlic chives, or scallion
  • 3-6 shiso leaves
  • 1 cup fresh spinach


Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise, then make ½ inch cuts across to create half moons. With the cut side down, press the side of the knife blade onto the cucumber skin and press down, “smashing” the cucumber piece until the skin breaks and the seed-side flattens. Continue doing this to all the sliced cucumber pieces.

Place cut cucumbers in a bowl and add the sugar kelp flakes and salt and toss. At this point, it’s best for the cucumbers to sit for 10-15 min, absorbing the salt and rehydrating the kelp flakes. But if you are in a time crunch, no need to wait.
Drizzle sesame oil and rice vinegar, then sriracha (or whatever hot sauce you’re using) over the cucumbers. Finish with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime and give the salad a toss to make sure it’s even coated.

Lastly, chiffonade whatever herbs you’re using into fine ribbons. I like to take the extra time to chiffonade my herbs for this salad so that they don’t clump and overpower, are dispersed evenly throughout each bite, and don’t bruise. For this salad, I used Thai basil, purple basil, chives, and shiso from my garden. If you’re using spinach, add in last and toss until everything is well mixed.

This salad can be enjoyed fresh or prepared a few hours before serving. If I want a crunchy salad, I’ll enjoy it right away. For a more marinated “saucier” salad that pairs well with a dinner entree and a side of rice, I’ll let this mix sit for a few hours marinating in the dressing.