Cucumber Kimchi is a spicy Korean side dish made from cucumbers. It’s perfect when you want to eat kimchi but don't want to wait for it to ferment. It's an easy and quick cucumber kimchi recipe that makes a refreshing side dish for any meal.
Korea is famous for many sweet treats like frozen grapes with jello and Dalgona candy. But they're also famous for spicy and savoury dishes. This salad is a good example.
This salad can be great if you've never had kimchi before. This is because it's not as fermented as the others. However, even if you're a fan of the traditional cabbage one, you still might want to try this out. And hello, cucumber fans! This Korean dish is for you.
What is Cucumber Kimchi?
Cucumber kimchi or Oi Kimchi is a Korean side dish made of cut-up cucumbers. It is a little different from the kimchi most people eat. However, it doesn't use the familiar fermented cabbage.
In addition, it is also a type of kimchi that does not need to ferment. So, you can serve it right after you make it. But, you can still make cucumber kimchi fermented overnight if you want!
Since the cucumbers look similar to Kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi), it is also known as Oi Kkakdugi (오이깍두기). This spicy Korean cucumber salad is eaten in Korea in the Spring and Summer when the refreshing vegetables are in season. In fact, it is an essential side dish during these seasons.
Oi Kimchi is also an alternative to Oi Sobagi (오이 소박이). This particular side dish is cucumbers that have been turned into pockets. They are then stuffed with vegetables and kimchi paste. Oi Sobagi takes more time to ferment but stays crunchy for longer.
On the other hand, Oi Kimchi is easier and quicker to prepare. This recipe is popular on TikTok and only needs some cutting up, mixing, and seasoning. We will help you with how to prepare this quick Korean salad in this article!
What does Cucumber Kimchi taste like?
Cucumber kimchi tastes spicy, sour and tangy. It has strong flavours, but the cucumbers make it refreshing and cool. This makes it the perfect light side dish with a burst of flavours. You can even try cucumber kimchi gochujang if you like a bit more spice.
The Korean salad is also satisfyingly crunchy and goes well with many mild dishes such as radish soup or Korean pickled radish. You can also enjoy it with Mayak eggs and Korean BBQ. However, we don't recommend eating it with something equally strong. But go for it if that's something you enjoy! But, you can make simple cucumber kimchi with vinegar for something milder.
A serving of cucumber kimchi has around 50-60 calories. It is low in calories, and you don't need much to get the benefits. Therefore, you can include it in your daily meals for a healthy diet.
Is Cucumber Kimchi healthy?
This Korean cucumber salad has high levels of healthy bacteria. It is a superfood with a lot of benefits and helps you detox. Kimchi is a probiotic which helps with digestion, and studies have found that eating it before bed can help with insomnia.
The healthy microorganisms in the dish also help the immune system and fight inflammation. Not to mention, it has anti-ageing properties, which is why Koreans look so youthful!
Furthermore, cucumbers are high in antioxidants like vitamin C and manganese. These greens are also excellent sources of nutrients to prevent diseases. Moreover, cucumber kimchi calories are pretty low, so there is no guilt if you eat too much. We recommend a daily serving of 100g for all the benefits.
Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad Ingredients
Below are the main cucumber kimchi ingredients you need to make this crunchy Korean side dish:
- Cucumbers – Any type of cucumber will do the trick, but Koreans use ones with fewer seeds. Therefore, Korean cucumbers would be best for this recipe. You can find them in many Asian supermarkets. But, you can also use Kirby cucumbers, which are crunchy and great for pickling.
- Carrot – It adds sweetness and texture and makes your salad crunchy.
- Chives – Their slightly sweet and go well with other vegetables.
- Red apple – It also adds sweetness to the cucumber kimchi. Alternatively, you can use Asian pear.
- Ginger – What's kimchi without ginger!? A little will do. Too much ginger can make the salad sticky.
- Garlic – It adds zing to the dish and makes it spicier and tangier.
Seasoning ingredients for cucumber kimchi
- Gochugaru – This coarsely ground Korean chilli powder is a key ingredient in Korean cooking. It has a similar texture to crushed red pepper flakes. However, it has a more robust flavour than usual red pepper flakes. It is fruity, earthy, and smoky and gives the salad a fiery red colour.
- Sugar – This helps balance the savouriness and sourness in the dish. You can also use fruit juice or honey.
- Salt – It is best to use coarse sea salt to get the best flavour. Refined salt might speed up the brining process and cause the cucumber to lose its crunchiness. Moreover, table salt has iodine which prevents fermentation.
- Fish Sauce – A little bit of fish sauce can make the dish more savoury and salty.
- Saeujeot – These are Korean salted shrimp that will add some umami notes to the salad. Incorporate this ingredient into the recipe to give your side dish a more authentic flavour.
Vegan Cucumber Kimchi
You can easily make this refreshing salad vegan with some tweaks. Simply exclude the salted shrimp and replace fish sauce with regular soy sauce. Please note that ½ a teaspoon of fish sauce is the same as 1 tablespoon (15ml) of soy sauce. Feel free to add ingredients like tofu to spice up your vegan cucumber kimchi.
Making Cucumber Kimchi Tips
- You can use 5-6 English or Kirby cucumbers instead 2-3 large ones.
- You can experiment with the dish by adding other vegetables like cabbage, radish, or ginger. Doing this will add variety to the salad.
- You must use a non-reactive bowl, such as a glass one, to make the salad. It will prevent the acids in the food from reacting with the container.
- Let the salad sit at room temperature overnight if you want it fermented. Then, refrigerate it in the fridge for up to a week or two.
- You can peel the skin of the cucumber if you want. But, you may not need to if you use small ones.
- Mix the vegetables and sauce thoroughly to ensure that they pickle evenly.
How to Store
You can store your cucumber kimchi in an air-tight glass container at room temperature. It gets better in taste over a few days. Keeping it in a refrigerator also lasts for up to a month, depending on its salt content.
However, keep in mind that the cucumbers will lose more water the longer you store them. So, it is best to eat cucumber kimchi within a week unless you like it mushy!
Cucumber Kimchi Recipe | Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad
- 3 cucumbers
- 50 g julienned carrots
- 20 g chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 2 tbsps gochugaru (red chilli pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated red apple/Asian pear
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon Korean salted shrimp
- ½ teaspoon Korean fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon minced ginger
- Start by cutting off the cucumber's ends. Then, divide it into three pieces and cross-cut each one. The cucumber pieces should be 4-5 cm in length. Put them into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Mix gently and let them sit for 20 minutes.
- Brush off the salt from the cucumber and place them in a clean bowl. Add in the sauce and mix. Next, add the carrots and chives before combining them with other ingredients. Then, move it into a glass bowl or container and cover it.
- You can enjoy it fresh with your next meal. But, if you prefer it more fermented, let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. Then, keep it in the refrigerator and let chill before serving.
- Add in more fish sauce if you don't have Korean salted shrimp.
- Substitute the Korean fish sauce with 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce to make it vegan.
- You can use any suitable cucumber for pickling to make the dish.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
We hope you enjoy making this delightful cucumber kimchi dish. Be sure to share what you pair this side dish with, tag us on @honestfoodtalks and give us a follow!
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