This quick cucumber kimchi, also known as oi kimchi, is a great banchan to make when you're in a pinch, or craving something refreshing but also pungent, savory, spicy, and tangy.
Oi kimchi, or cucumber kimchi, is one of the most popular side dishes to make, especially during the summer.
It's crunchy, refreshing, and has everything you'd want in a classic kimchi. Saltiness, spice, tang, garlic, and a hint of sweetness. But not only does it taste good, this quick cucumber kimchi can be made in 20 minutes!
Perfect when you need a quick side dish to complete your meal!
What is cucumber kimchi?
Cucumber kimchi is a Korean banchan/side dish that's especially popular during the summer. There are couple different variations, like oi sobagi (stuffed cucumber kimchi) and this fresh cucumber kimchi (oi kimchi) that's much easier to make.
This cucumber kimchi is crunchy, salty, spicy, tangy, garlicky, with just enough sweetness to balance everything out. You can often find it at Korean grocery stores and at most Korean restaurants, including Korean BBQ restaurants.
- English cucumber - We highly recommend using english cucumbers, Persian or those mini cucumbers. English cucumbers are usually wrapped in plastic. Regular cucumbers tend to have very thick skin and taste kind of bitter.
- Salt - For salting the cucumbers so that some excess moisture can be drawn out. This will give the cucumbers flavor and that addicting crunch. We used kosher salt, but you can use table salt too.
- Rice vinegar - To give the cucumber kimchi a little extra tang since cucumber kimchi is not meant for longer term fermentation. We used this rice vinegar.
- Gochugaru - Also known as Korean red pepper flakes. It's a Korean pantry classic and is used to add heat to dishes and kimchi.
- Sugar - Just a little to help balance out the sharpness of the vinegar.
- Fish sauce - This gives cucumber kimchi the extra umami, funk, and delicious saltiness. You could substitute fish sauce for saeujeot (Korean salt brined shrimps) or soy sauce. Soy sauce won't be a perfect substitute, but it'll add some umami flavor.
- Garlic - No kimchi is complete without garlic! You can mince it or grate it.
- Sesame oil - Add some toasty, nuttiness to the kimchi.
- Carrot, asian chive, sesame seed - These are all optional, but definitely give the cucumber kimchi an extra depth of flavor and texture.
1. Cut and discard the ends of the cucumber. Slice the cucumber into ¼ inch coins. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with a teaspoon of kosher salt.
2. Give the cucumbers a good mix and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cucumbers are flexible and there's a small pool of cucumber juice at the bottom of the bowl.
3. While the cucumbers are salting, prepare the cucumber kimchi marinade. Combine the rice vinegar, gochugaru, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Mix until combined and set aside.
4. Also, prepare the carrots and asian chives. Peel and cut the carrot into juliennes, or thin matchsticks. Cut and discard the ends of the asian chives, then cut the chives into 1 inch pieces.
4. Once the cucumbers are done salting, rinse them in cold water to remove excess salt. Repeat a couple of times if necessary. Drain well and do not squeeze the cucumbers.
5. After the cucumbers are rinsed and well drained, add the prepared kimchi marinade and vegetables. Give everything a good mix and make sure all the cucumbers are well coated.
6. Garnish the cucumber kimchi with some sesame seeds if you wish and enjoy immediately or refrigerate overnight for the cucumbers to be more marinated.
- Thickness of the cucumber coins determine the salting time. If the cucumber slices are thicker or thiner, decrease or increase the salting time accordingly.
- One way to determine if the cucumbers are salted enough is by its flexibility. You should be able to bend it back and forth without breaking it. You'll also see some cucumber juice at the bottom of the bowl.
- You can also taste the cucumbers to see if they're done salting. Rinse a cucumber coin under cold water. The cucumber should taste well seasoned, not overly salty. But make sure the cucumber is well rinsed before tasting!
- Add more gochugaru for extra heat. If you prefer your kimchi spicer, feel free to add more gochugaru to your preference. Likewise, if you prefer less heat, but don't completely omit it!
Does cucumber kimchi needs to be fermented?
Kimchi is often known for their long fermentation, but this quick cucumber kimchi doesn't not need to be fermented to be enjoyed!
Rather, this cucumber kimchi can be enjoyed immediately, but best after 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
If you have leftover cucumber kimchi, store it in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to 7 days. After 7 days, the cucumbers will start to lose their crunch and become softer and mushier.
Also, storing the cucumber kimchi in an airtight container is highly recommended. If not, the pungent smell of the kimchi will permeate your fridge.
Cucumber kimchi is crunchy, refreshing, but also tastes spicy, salty, tangy, garlicky, with just enough sweetness to balance everything. Everything fresh kimchi should taste like!
As cucumber kimchi is not meant for long term fermentation, it is best to enjoy it within 7 days. The longer the cucumber sits, the softer and mushier it'll become.
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Quick Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Kimchi)
- 1 english cucumber (Persian or mini cucumbers work too)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ medium carrot (optional)
- ½ ounce Asian chives or 2 sprigs green onions (optional)
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated (about ½ TBSP)
- ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
- ½ tablespoon toasted sesame seed (optional)
- Salt the cucumber:Remove the ends of the cucumber and cut it into ¼ inch coins. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Give the cucumbers a good mix to distribute the salt. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cucumber coins become flexible and a small pool of liquid collects at the bottom of the bowl.
- Make the cucumber kimchi marinade:While waiting on the cucumbers to salt, combine the rice vinegar, gochugaru, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Prepare the optional veggies:Peel the carrot and julienne (cut into thin, matchsticks). Cut off the ends of the asian chives then cut them into 1 inch pieces.
- Drain and rinse the cucumber:Once the cucumber is done salting, rinse the cucumbers with cold water and drain well. Repeat a couple more times if necessary, until the excess salt is washed off. Do not squeeze the cucumber!
- Make the cucumber kimchi:After the cucumbers have been rinsed and drained, add the prepared carrot, chives, and kimchi marinade into the bowl with the cucumbers. Give everything a good mix until the cucumbers are well coated.
- Garnish the cucumber kimchi with a little more sesame seeds and you can enjoy it immediately or refrigerate it overnight.
- The cucumber's salting time heavily depends on how thick they are cut. The thicker the longer, and the thinner the less time it takes.
- Although this cucumber kimchi can be enjoyed immediately, it tastes better after marinating for at least 30 minutes, or best overnight.