Disclaimer: I’ve used regular Indian chilli powder in this recipe, and not gochugaru, the traditionally used Korean chilli flakes. I’ve done my fair share of sourcing gochugaru in the past, but have since realized that the few Korean dishes that I cook and use them in actually work well with our more ubiquitous Indian variant. So technically you could say that this salad is therefore not “Korean”, but rather “Korean-inspired”. Semantics for you, if you’re into it. If you happen to have gochugaru on hand by all means use it. Adjust quantities accordingly.
This cucumber salad—Oi Muchim—is traditionally served as banchan (those cute shared bowls of side dishes they serve alongside your drinks/before your meal). They’re typically quick-pickled and tossed with sesame seeds, soy sauce, spring onions, gochugaru, garlic, rice vinegar and a bit of sugar.
Pickling here is nothing more cumbersome than tossing cucumber slices in salt and letting them sit for 15 minutes. The salt draws out moisture from the cucumber as it sits, and we’ll squeeze out all this excess liquid before tossing them in the dressing. The pickling process makes them slightly limp, but they remain miraculously crunchy too at the same time.
KOREAN CUCUMBER SALAD
- 2-3 cucumbers (400g in total)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon spring onions, finely chopped (green parts)
- ¾ teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- A few drops of toasted sesame oil
- Slice the cucumbers into thin rounds. Toss with salt, gently massaging them into the slices and making sure to coat them all evenly. Let it sit for 15 mins.
- Stir together the dressing. Set aside.
- Drain out the liquid that will have accumulated in the bowl. Gently squeeze out the cucumber slices to rid them of any excess moisture. Do this in small handfuls. Add to a bowl.
- Toss the cucumber slices with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature.