There really isn’t a kimchi type I don’t like, but I would say cucumber kimchi is by far my favorite. I rarely buy it because the local H-Mart usually sells only the large containers. Since no one else in the family likes cucumber kimchi and it ferments faster than cabbage kimchi, I would have to eat it everyday for a week in order to avoid waste. I don’t love it that much!
A couple of my friends posted photos of cucumber kimchi they had made and they looked so delicious! They swore that it was easy to make, but I like my hands held when I feel intimidated by certain type of recipes. And lo and behold, they all came from three different states to hold my hands. One even flew in from Texas! We had a great time, cooking and eating and eating and eating and some drinking, too. I had my first taste of makgeolli (Korean fermented rice wine)! But more on that later. Let’s get down to the cucumber kimchi recipe!
We used a slightly modified recipe from Maangchi which is very easy. She even has a video for visual learners like myself for all of her recipes. We were making kimchi for four families to take back home so we quadrupled the recipe. I bought 24 kirby cucumbers and 10 Korean cucumbers so we could compare the taste. We mixed the two cucumber types for salting, but I would salt them separate or just buy one kind next time. The kirby cucumbers are larger and need longer salting time. The kirby ones tasted more bland than the Korean ones after just one day of fermentation.
Korean radish is traditionally used for baechu kimchi (cabbage kimchi) and there was a debate whether to add it. One of the ladies swore by it so we listened and it was a nice addition to the “stuffing”.
Below is an image of “Asian” chives for reference and it can be found in any Asian supermarkets. It can be substituted with green onion/scallion or American chives, but the flavor will be different.
All the ladies agreed that Three Crabs fish sauce is best. I’m not that picky, but majority ruled. Fish sauce can be optional for vegetarians or those who feel queasy about the whole idea of fish sauce, but the end product will be lacking a certain depth to the flavor.
Here is my unni mixing the cucumber seasoning the old-fashioned way, by hand.
All packed and ready to be taken home.
A few things you may need: a mandoline to speed up the vegetable cutting, plastic food prep gloves in order to avoid getting your hands stained and smelly and a large glass jar, about 1/2 gallon, to store the kimchi. You can use plastic containers, but it will absorb the smell and stain. Also, a glass jar with a screw lid will seal the smell better than plastic containers.
Total prep: 10 mins Inactive time: 20 mins Cook time: 15 mins
2 pounds kirby ( 9 – 10) or Korean cucumbers (4 – 5)
2 tablespoons of Kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more for cleaning
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 cup julienned Korean radish, optional
1 cup chopped buchu (Asian chives), 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup coarse Korean chili pepper flakes
3 tablespoon fish sauce 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional
Clean the cucumbers by rubbing with some salt and water. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Cut the ends off. If using Korean cucumbers which are longer than kirby, cut them into about 3 or 4 inch pieces. Slice the cucumbers lengthwise from one end to about 1/2 inch of the other end. Make another lengthwise cut perpendicular to the first cut. Place the cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle and rub with salt inside and out. Let them sit for about 20 minutes (flip them after 10 mins for even distribution of the salt). Rinse the cucumbers in cold water and place in a colander to drain.
In a large glass or metal bowl, combine the carrot, radish, buchu, onion, garlic, chili pepper flakes, fish sauce and sugar and mix well.
Stuff the inside of the cucumbers generously with the seasoning and rub the outside with the mixture as well. Place the cucumbers in the glass jar. Pour the remaining seasoning on top. It can be served immediately or chilled first in the refrigerator or left outside up to 24 hours to ferment.