This cucumber kimchi salad is refreshingly sweet, spicy, and tangy! It is the perfect side dish to add a little texture and a whole lot of flavor.
I make this at least once a week. It is super easy to make and my husband is always asking for it!
This is my mom’s recipe. It took me a while to be able to make it as good as she does, but I’ve made it so many times now I can do it with my eyes closed. This stuff is seriously good. It’s so good that my mom has been selling it to her coworkers for the last 10 years!
As with any other Korean side dish, every household makes their oi muchim a little different. What makes this recipe the best is the ratio of ingredients. The ingredient list is pretty standard for oi muchim, but it’s the amount of each ingredient that really makes a difference.
Cucumber- Persian or Japanese cucumbers are best
Carrot- optional, I always add them to make this more nutritious
Onion & green onion- also optional
Salt- use coarse sea salt, not table salt. This is technically not going into the seasoning sauce- it will be sprinkled over the veggies to draw out water and impart flavor
Gochugaru- Korean red pepper flakes, this has no substitute so if you use something else, it won’t taste the same.
Sesame oil- Make sure you use toasted sesame oil. I use Kadoya 100% pure sesame oil.
Plum vinegar- you can find this at any Korean supermarket. If there isn’t one near you, you can use rice or white vinegar instead. I tried finding a link on Amazon for you but they are ridiculously overpriced.
Sugar- you need more sugar than you think. This is what makes this recipe so good, and don’t worry about it being “too sweet.” The sugar is needed to balance the salt, acid, and spice. Trust me on this!
Garlic- do not add more than the recipe calls for!
Toasted sesame seeds- also called “roasted” sesame seeds.
Serrano pepper- if you want to make this extra spicy, you can add a serrano pepper either finely minced or thinly sliced.
What types of cucumber to use
I use Persian cucumbers because they are always available where I shop, and they have almost no seeds which I prefer. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers or want to try something else, I recommend these:
Japanese cucumber- the sweetest of all the cucumbers. Highly recommend trying this one if it is available near you.
English cucumber- sweet with small seeds, usually wrapped in plastic and available at most American supermarkets.
Pickling (Kirby) cucumber- the ugliest cucumber in my opinion, but it is extra crunchy and mild in flavor.
How to make it
Wash your veggies first! You can cut the cucumbers and carrots into whatever shape you want, it doesn’t really matter.
How thin/thick you slice them is a matter of preference. I prefer more on the thicker side, but my husband prefers them thin like I have cut them here. The thinner you cut them, the more flavor they will absorb. It will still be crunchy because of the salting process.
After cutting your cucumbers, carrots, and onions, toss with coarse salt in a bowl and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Do not use table salt. The salting process draws out water from the veggies, making them crunchy and last longer. It also seasons them, which is why salt/fish sauce/soy sauce are not needed in the seasoning sauce.
You will need to remove as much water as you can by gently squeezing it out. Don’t squeeze too hard- you don’t want to bruise the cucumbers. I find that using a salad spinner is the best method for this because you don’t waste any paper towels, and there is minimal bruising on the cucumbers. It works really well.
Then add all the seasoning ingredients and mix well. That’s it!
Oi Muchim (Spicy Cucumber Salad)
- 1 lb Persian cucumbers (about 5) or English, Japanese, Kirby cucumber
- 2 oz carrot
- 1/4 onion
- 2 tsp salt
Spicy Seasoning Sauce
- 2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp plum vinegar or rice or white vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 serrano pepper finely minced or sliced, optional
- Rinse and cut the cucumbers, carrots, and onion. The shape and thickness do not matter that much- it depends on your preference.
- Add salt and toss to coat evenly. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
- After 10-15 minutes, there will be a pool of water drawn out from the veggies. Pour it out and remove as much water as possible from the veggies. You can do this either by gently squeezing it out using paper towels, or using a salad spinner. Careful not to bruise the cucumbers.
- Add the seasoning sauce ingredients. You can reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe if you want, but I highly recommend keeping the original amount to make this extra delicious.
- Mix until evenly coated and serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to a week.
- There is NO fermenting involved here! This is not really a kimchi, more like a kimchi salad. It will not last that long in the fridge especially with sesame oil.