Korean cucumber kimchi, also known as oi-sobagi, is a must-have Korean side dish during the summer season. This traditional recipe ensures that the kimchi ferments perfectly and remains crunchy until you finish the entire batch. Making it at home is incredibly easy as well.
Summer is the perfect season to explore the world of Korean cuisine and indulge in the delightful flavors of cucumber kimchi. This popular banchan, or side dish, is a refreshing and healthy option that you must try. There are two types of cucumber kimchi to choose from: stuffed cucumber kimchi, known as “Oi-sobagi (오이 소박이),” and cut-up cucumber kimchi, referred to as “Oi Kimchi (오이김치).” If you’re seeking a longer-lasting, crunchy texture, Oi-sobagi is the way to go. Give it a try and experience the addictive qualities that have captivated so many kimchi enthusiasts.
Experience the exceptional crunchiness of this traditional cucumber kimchi recipe that sets it apart from others. Don’t miss the chance to taste the difference!
Modern Twist on Tradition: Crafting Stuffed Korean Cucumber Kimchi
Not all cucumber kimchi recipes are created equal. Many tend to lose their crisp texture during the fermentation process, resulting in mushy kimchi. However, this recipe stands out as it maintains its crunchiness even after the kimchi has fully fermented, allowing you to relish every bite until the very last serving.
By stuffing the cucumbers with kimchi filling, their texture and flavor are preserved, resulting in a slow fermentation process that enhances the taste of the kimchi using the traditional method. It’s like enjoying spicy cucumber pickles but with a unique Korean twist.
While cut-up cucumber kimchi is a quicker option to prepare, it tends to ferment faster and may become mushy sooner. If you truly want to savor the authentic, full-bodied crunch of Korean cucumber kimchi, opt for the traditional stuffed cucumber recipe. It is easy to make and guarantees a delicious outcome.
Distinguishing Cucumber Kimchi from Cucumber Salad
I’ve observed that there is often confusion between cucumber kimchi and Korean cucumber salad (Oi-muchim) among many individuals, including some food bloggers who have shared recipes on their websites.
It’s important to note that these two dishes are distinct from each other and are prepared in completely different ways. Korean cucumber salad is a quick side dish that is not meant to undergo fermentation.
Selecting the Appropriate Cucumbers
In order to achieve the best cucumber kimchi, it is crucial to start with the appropriate cucumber variety. Here are some options that are well-suited for creating stuffed cucumber kimchi:
- Korean cucumbers: These cucumbers are long and slim, boasting a pale green hue and an exceptionally crunchy texture. They are commonly found in Korean grocery stores during the spring and summer seasons.
- Kirby cucumbers: These cucumbers are widely utilized for pickling purposes and can be found readily available. With a tender skin, they are a suitable choice for making kimchi and are commonly accessible.
For this specific recipe, I opted for Kirby cucumbers as they are an ideal option for producing cucumber pickles that retain their crispness.
In addition to cucumbers, here are the other ingredients you will need for cucumber kimchi:
Cucumber kimchi filling:
- Asian chives: Can be substituted with green onion.
- Carrot: Adds texture and flavor.
- Onion, garlic, ginger paste: Enhances the savory profile.
- Korean fish sauce or other fish sauce: Contributes umami flavor.
- Korean chili flakes (gochugaru): Provides spicy taste.
- Sugar: Offers a sweet balance to the kimchi.
- Korean plum extract (optional): Adds an additional layer of sweetness.
- Water and salt: Used for brining the cucumbers. Coarse sea salt, preferably Korean salt, is recommended.
HOW TO MAKE CUCUMBER KIMCHI
The number of cucumbers needed depends on the cucumber variety:
- For Kirby cucumbers, use 8-10 cucumbers.
- For Korean cucumbers, use 5-6 cucumbers.
- For English cucumbers, use 4 cucumbers.
Make crosswise cuts on the cucumber, creating a cross pattern, while ensuring to leave one end of the cucumber uncut.
Combine water and salt in a pot and bring it to a boil. Then, pour the boiling salted water over the cucumbers in a mixing bowl.
Place a weight on top of the cucumbers to keep them submerged in the salt brine. Allow them to sit for 1 hour, then remove and drain the cucumbers.
Cut the Asian chives into pieces measuring 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length.
To prepare the kimchi filling, combine Asian chives, carrot, onion, garlic, ginger paste, Korean chili flakes, Korean fish sauce, sugar, Korean plum extract (optional), toasted sesame seeds, and water in a mixing bowl.
Fill the cucumbers with the kimchi filling, ensuring to coat the outside of the cucumbers with the filling as well.
Arrange the stuffed kimchi in layers inside an airtight container and cover it securely.
FERMENTATION AND STORAGE TIPS
If you prefer a fresh taste, you can enjoy your kimchi immediately. For a quicker fermentation process, leave the kimchi at room temperature for 1-2 days before transferring it to the refrigerator. The kimchi will continue to ferment slowly in the fridge.
How long will it keep? If you want the kimchi to ferment more rapidly, leave it at room temperature for 2-3 days until it reaches the desired level of fermentation. Afterwards, store it in the refrigerator and aim to consume it within 2 months.
Cucumber kimchi is a fantastic summer kimchi that pairs well with various dishes enjoyed during the summer season. However, don’t restrict yourself to enjoying this flavorful kimchi only in the summer months – it is equally delicious and enjoyable throughout the year.