This simple Korean cucumber salad is the perfect side dish to serve at home. It is very a very common side dish at Korean restaurants. Some people even call this cucumber kimchi (I used to), but technically it is not kimchi. Since it is quickly prepared, not normally fermented, and can be eaten fresh, it’s not kimchi. But whatever you call it is a delicious recipe.
You can let this dish ferment before eating if you wish to do so. However, the cucumbers quickly lose their crunch and become mushy.
For oi muchim any cucumber with thin skin will do; appropriate choices include English cucumbers, Japanese cucumbers, Korean cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers since they all have thin skins. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them.
The English cucumber can usually be found all year long in most grocery stores throughout the United States. It is always best to choose the thinner ones; they have fewer seeds and less water in them.
In my opinion, the Japanese ones taste the most delicious, but they are difficult to find. I do like growing Japanese and Korean cucumbers in my garden. This year I tried growing some Korean ones but was too late planting them and the heat was very rough on them. But I will plant some soon and try for Fall cucumbers.
As far as the Korean ones are concerned, they are traditional and have a fairly long shelf life. Korean markets (H-Mart) are a convenient place to find them. You can also try Asian grocery stores. The cucumbers pictured in this picture are a bit on the thick side, so they had more seeds than I prefer. The membranes around the seeds have a lot of excess moisture so the membranes and seeds will need to be removed.
After I cut off the ends, this is what it looked like. The picture shows that Japanese cucumbers have fewer seeds than English and Korean cucumbers. Cucumbers with fewer seeds are undoubtedly crunchier than those with more seeds.
This is Korean chives before being prepped. You can see some black spots and dirty roots. If you can find these, they make the best muchim but if not just use green onions. The Chinese chives are very tough, and I do not recommend using them.
This is the chives after removing all the damaged areas, washing and trimming off the roots’ end.
Chop them up finely with a sharp knife. The sharper the knife, the easier it will be for you to do this.
Cucumbers, That is the base for our side salad
Salt is used to remove excess liquid from the cucumbers. Solar sea salt is best but use what you have.
Korean red pepper flakes, bring spice and flavor.
Fresh garlic, garlic is used in most Korean recipes to add extra punch but you can always leave it out.
Chives or green onions, add a debt of flavor and a little freshness.
Sugar is used to balance out the flavors. The dish should not be sweet so use sparingly.
Fish sauce is used to add a little umami to the dish.
Soy sauce is used in Korean side dishes for saltiness.
Sesame seeds, add flavor, and texture and are used as a garnish.
Toasted sesame oil, adds a lot of flavors but should be used sparingly.
Note: I see some recipes with apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar. I never use them, if I did I think my wife would kill me. Some people use them to add tangy flavors.
In a small bowl mix up your seasoning mix, add the chives, Korean chili flakes (Gochugaru), finely minced garlic, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. In order to keep it vegan and gout-friendly, you can leave out the fish sauce and make it with extra soy sauce with a bit of extra salt. Combine all the ingredients and set them aside for later.
Wash and dry your cucumbers and cut them into thin slices. Now to make them crunchy we need to remove the excess water.
Place your sliced cucumbers into a mixing bowl or colander. Add sea salt and toss the cucumber slices to distribute the salt. Toss every ten minutes for a total time of thirty minutes.
After thirty minutes, rinse them to remove the salt. Taste one; it should be bland. If it’s salty, soak your slices in water for five minutes to remove more of the salt.
After the cucumbers leached out the excess moister they should now be crunchy. So now we can rinse off the excess salt. Taste one; it should be bland in taste. Rember our seasoning mix is salty. If it is still salty soak in water for five minutes if the slices are salty in order to remove more of the salt.
Take a few slices at a time and mash between your hands to squeeze out more moisture. The cucumber slices are now ready to season.
After removing the slices from the water, add the seasoning mix and coat the cucumbers. After one hour, your Oi-muchim will be ready to eat. It is best eaten within a few days. Oi-muchim is a perfect banchan with Korean spicy grilled pork.
This version was made using one Korean cucumber and the same recipe for the seasoning mix. Due to the size, the cucumbers were cut in half. This keeps the slices bite size. This side dish is perfect with oxtail soup.
In Korean cuisine, muchim means to season and we are now ready to muchim. In a large bowl mix the cucumber slices with the seasoning mix. Give them a good toss. You can serve them now but for the best results and allow them to rest a room temperature for one hour. This allows all of the flavors to combine. Your Korean cucumber side dish would be the perfect banchan for Korean spicy grilled pork.
Leftover spicy Korean cucumber salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. However, it is best consumed in a few days.
The sodium count in the recipe will be off. Most of the salt used on the cucumbers gets washed off but still goes for the sodium count.
- 1 each English Cucumber Any thin skinned cucumber
- 1/4 Cup Sea Salt
- 1/4 Cup Chives Korean, chopped or green onion
- 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes Gochugaru
- 1 clove Garlic Finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
- 1/2 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 1/2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Sesame seeds
Prepare the cucumber
- Slice the cucumber1 each English Cucumber
- To the cucumber slices add 1/4 Cup of sea salt. Toss. Let sit for ten minutes then toss again.1/4 Cup Sea Salt
- After thirty minutes rinse in cold water.
Make the seasoning mix
- In a small bowl mix up your seasoning mix, add the chives, Korean chili flakes (Gochugaru), finely minced garlic, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. Combine all the ingredients and set them aside for later.1/4 Cup Chives, 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes, 1 clove Garlic, 1/4 teaspoon Sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon Fish Sauce, 1/2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 Tablespoon Sesame seeds
- After the cucumbers have been drained add the seasoning mix and combine.
- Wait one hour.