finally got the Korean cucumbers right

An update since I first wrote this post — the recipe comes from Zen Kimchi, so check it out, and now back to the original post… I shouldn’t make that sushi experiment sound all bad. This spicy Korean cucumber dish was the highlight of the meal, but it didn’t come without a bit of trial-and-error as well. Whenever I go out for Korean food at my favorite place in Palisades Park, NJ, the spicy cucumber banchan is a highlight of the meal — spicy and sweet with a little bit of twang. I’d wanted to try making it at home, and I recently got my hands on a new Korean cookbook. The recipe was pretty much like making pickles, and it required several days of waiting time. I followed the recipe to the letter, and my cucumbers turned to total mush. Gross. Then I even tried making the recipe again, tweaking a few things I thought would improve it. Another mushy (and way too spicy and not sweet) disaster! Each batch took me days to make, but they all went into the trash.

My Korean girlfriend came to my rescue with a recipe she found, umm… I don’t know where she got it, but it’s called Oi Muchim in Korean. She even bought me these very small seedless cucumbers so I’d be motivated to try again. First you toss the cucumbers with sea salt (I had some authentic Korean stuff in the cupboard). Then you soak thinly sliced onions in water and rice vinegar in the refrigerator.

Finally you make this spicy mixture of garlic, chili powder, red pepper paste, corn syrup (or honey), rice vinegar, and sesame seeds and toss everything together. The best part is, no waiting. This was ready to eat about 30 minutes after I started, and we loved it. So the recipe actually worked, tasted great, and was easy too. I’ll try not to think about all those wasted cucumbers from the first two batches.

35 thoughts on “finally got the Korean cucumbers right

  1. Looks awesome. I love the many side dishes. Nicely done. If you could find a recipe for those seasoned bean sprout, you can be my new best friend.

  2. ninette: no, i used pickling-type cucumbers the first two times, which really should have workedfinsmom: thanksjenn: oh man, i do want to find a recipe for those. let me look around.

  3. Salting probably removed some of the moisture and that would help with crispness. I admire your determination. I hate not to be able to make something, so I understand your frustration.

  4. Oh yum! I love the cucumbers and kimchi, but am always afraid to try pickling or fermenting something… worried that I'll end up poisoning myself or some unsuspecting victim.Have you ever tried making that soft/sweet potato they also serve w/ korean food?

  5. mary: right, but i salted the cucumbers in the other versions too… sighangie: thankspandalicious: me tooelin: thanksjanice: thanks for visitingd: i wasn't worried about that before, but now I might be??? anyway, no, i haven't tried making that at home before.

  6. Those mini seedless cukes are adorable. And I totally admire your perserverance to get this dish right! Cool idea to use corn syrup (I can never get the sugar to completely dissolve)

  7. yummm….one of my favorite korean banchans! My mom makes the best oi muchim! Every time me or my brother's friends come over, they request it. Glad yours turned out! Way to stick with it. They look good!

  8. zenkimchi: okay good. thanks for visiting.rose: i love them all too, well, almost them allstephchows: ha, yeahphyllis: right, sugar would have been problematic without heating this up in some way, which would be a bad ideasuzanne: i would love to try some of your mom's recipeamanda: thanks for visiting

  9. This sounds really good, especially the sauce. Rice vinegar mixes so well with sweet tastes (honey, nut butter, etc).I buy my HUGE bags of pine nuts at costco so they are not too too expensive 😉

  10. The ingredients are quite similar to the Acar I blogged about recently 🙂 I guess Asian cooking has many similarities! But you know, your first pic really blows my mind. The cucumbers look refreshingly crunchy and light! And in a gorgeous bowl to boot. Perfect! Glad you nailed it 🙂

  11. anh: thanks for stopping byerica: good idea about the pine nuts. i don't have a club membership like that.rita: right, after making all those super-long recipes, it was nice to find a much better one that is ready fastlt: thanks, i'll have to check for that acar recipe

  12. lol good job – i was like what?? when I read that it took you days to make a batch because it always took my mom maybe 20 minutes to make it (10 mins prep, 10 mins marinating). Of course it tastes better once it sits in that sweet, spicy marinade thoughyum.

  13. I think those cucumbers are like the ones they have in Japan. I can't get those here (in Spain). An Asian restaurant that also serves Korean food opened near my place but alas the owners were Chinese and their Japanese and Korean food is kind of strange…lol

  14. dahan: ha, well, the long-wait recipe was from a very prominent korean food expert, so I figured it should have worked. i'm glad i found the easier recipe though…little miss baker: believe it or not, i don't really like cucumbers, but i do love pickled onesmurasaki: ha, that's funny about the korean restaurantelra: if you make it, i hope you enjoy it

  15. Looks so delicious! And I think the satisfaction – and the taste – are increased mightily with each falied attempt. The dish that works always tastes like heaven!

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