This quick cucumber kimchi is a great alternative to traditional cucumber kimchi. It's easy to make, takes only 20 minutes, and makes for a great side dish to go with everyday meals. The cucumbers are crisp, well seasoned with a fragrant, sweet, savory, and tangy marinade. Perfect for midnight snacking with a bowl of Korean tuna rice or to refresh your palate in between bites of Korean fried chicken and chicken karaage.
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Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- English cucumber - We highly recommend using english cucumbers, Persian or those mini cucumbers for this recipe because they're crisper and more tender. 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 season the cucumber and give a nice snappy crisp. We used kosher salt, but you can use table salt too.
- Rice vinegar, gochugaru, sugar, fish sauce, garlic - These are the main ingredients needed for making the marinade, giving the cucumbers an addictive savory, sweet, tangy, and spicy flavor. For the gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes), we recommend using the coarse version. Also, if you prefer, you can substitute the fish sauce for saeujeot (Korean salted brined shrimps) for a funkier, saltier flavor.
- Sesame oil - We highly recommend adding some sesame oil to give the marinade a fragrant, nutty flavor.
- Carrot, asian chive, sesame seed - These ingredients are all optional but they definitely give the cucumber kimchi an extra layer of flavor, color, and texture.
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
1. Salt the cucumber. Cut the cucumber into ¼ inch slices and discard the ends. Place them into a bowl and sprinkle salt. Give the cucumber coins a good mix and set aside to salt for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the cucumber slices are flexible and a pool of liquid is at the bottom of the bowl.
2. Make the marinade. While the cucumber slices are salting, make the marinade by mixing together the rice vinegar, gochugaru, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds large bowl. Set aside until needed.
3. Rinse the cucumber. Once the cucumber slices are done salting, rinse them in cold water a few times to remove excess salt. Drain well.
🌟 Pro tip: A way to tell whether the cucumbers are rinsed well enough is to try one. The cucumber should taste just salted. If it's too salty, give them another rinse or two and taste again. Likewise, you can also use this test to see if the cucumbers are salted long enough before rinsing. Simply rinse a slice of cucumber well before tasting.
4. Mix with marinade. After the cucumber slices are rinsed and well drained, add them to the marinade along with the chive and carrot. Give everything a good mix until evenly coated.
5. Enjoy. Garnish the cucumber kimchi with some sesame seeds if you'd like and enjoy immediately or enjoy after refrigerating for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Thickness of the cucumber slices 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!
If you have leftover cucumber kimchi, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. It is best to enjoy this quick cucumber kimchi within 3 to 4 days, as the cucumber will become softer and mushier as it sits.
Also, we highly recommend storing the cucumber kimchi in an airtight container because the pungent smell from the garlic and fish sauce 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!
Unlike regular kimchi, this quick cucumber kimchi does not require fermenting and can be enjoyed immediately or after being chilled.
Quick Cucumber Kimchi
- 1 english cucumber Persian or mini cucumbers work too
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon gochugaru (coarse) also known as Korean red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated (about ½ tablespoon per clove)
- ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
- ½ tablespoon toasted sesame seed (optional)
- ½ medium carrot cut into thin matchsticks (optional)
- ½ ounce Asian chives trim and discard the ends and cut into 1 inch pieces (optional) *see notes
- Cut the cucumber into ¼ inch coins and discard the ends. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Give the cucumbers a good mix and set aside 10 to 15 minutes or until the cucumber coins become flexible and a small pool of liquid collects at the bottom of the bowl.
- While the cucumbers are salting, make the marinade by mixing together the rice vinegar, gochugaru, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Set aside until needed.
- Once the cucumber coins are done salting, rinse them with cold water a few times to remove excess salt. Drain well.
- Add the cucumbers, carrot, and chives into the bowl of prepared marinade and mix until everything is evenly coated.
- Garnish the cucumber kimchi with a little more sesame seeds if you'd like and enjoy immediately or after refrigerating for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Salting time - 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.
- Asian chives - These chives gives the cucumber kimchi a very unique flavor. You can find them at most Asian grocery stores. If you cannot find it, feel free to substitute with green onions instead.