Spicy Korean cucumber pickles, called oi muchim, are a typical side dish (banchan) served alongside Korean barbecue. But they also work quite nicely in a sandwich, alongside grilled meats, or with scrambled eggs. You can even serve them skewered as a garnish for cocktails, like in a martini or Bloody Mary.
These cucumber pickles are made by sprinkling crunchy cucumbers with a bit of salt, letting them sit to extract their liquid, and then tossing them with a few seasonings. They’re ready within an hour or two, but they will keep for up to a week covered and chilled; just note that the spiciness will increase as it sits.
- 1 Korean cucumber or 2 Kirby pickling cucumbers
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Korean red chili pepper flakes gochugaru (고추가루) – use less if desired
- 1 tablespoon chopped scallion
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Thinly slice the cucumber (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick). Toss gently with salt and set aside for about 15 minutes.
- Drain excess liquid. Avoid squeezing them because they will bruise. Mix well with all of the remaining ingredients.
Steps to Make It
- Gather the ingredients.
- Chop the kirby cucumbers into 1/2-inch pieces. If you’re using hothouse or English cucumbers, halve them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then cut them into about 1/2-inch pieces.
- Put the chopped cucumbers in a colander set over a large bowl. Sprinkle the cucumbers with the salt and toss them gently to combine. Let them sit for 30 to 60 minutes. The salt will draw out water from the cucumbers.
- Squeeze the cucumber pieces firmly to release more water; doing this in small handfuls will be the most effective.
- Lay the cucumber pieces in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels; roll up the towels tightly around the cucumbers to squeeze out even more water.
- Put the cucumbers in a medium bowl. Add the garlic, if using, and toss to combine. Add the pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Mix everything to combine thoroughly. Add the sesame seeds, if desired, and toss to combine.
- Cover and chill the pickles for at least 30 to 60 minutes before serving.
- The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Keep in mind that they will lose some of their crunch.
- You can also use this recipe with turnips and cauliflower, skipping the salting and squeezing steps.