I have been wanting to do this oi sobagi (cucumber kimchi) for a long time but my local grocery store didn’t have the Kirby cucumbers (small, knobby-looking ones) that I was looking for. So I decided to stop by the Asian grocers downtown, which has every exotic Asian fruit and vegetables, and fortunately found 10 of the guys I was looking for to do some pickling. Similar to making kimchi (but less time-consuming) making cucumber kimchi is pretty easy and the rewards are great. In warmer weather, eating these refreshing treats by themselves make for a great snack, but obviously go better with a traditional Korean meal, especially hot soups and stews. I got a little help from Mom with this one, so it doesn’t get any more traditional than this. She further goes onto to say that if pickling is done the right way, the cucumbers should still retain their crispness and bite even after a few weeks of refrigeration. This dish can be served fermented (being left out in room temperature for several days) or be eaten immediately afterwards depending on personal preference.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Salting time: 1 hour
Fermenting time: 1 day to 2 days
- 10 Kirby cucumbers, roughly 3 to 4 inches in length (small, ugly knobby ones work best)
- 1 cup coarse sea salt
- 8 cups water
- 1 handful buchu (Asian chives)
- 1 small onion, julienned
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 1 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp saewujeot (salted shrimp)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- sesame seeds (garnish)
- Clean and scrub the cucumbers under cold water.
- Cut off both ends of the cucumber. Cut in half and then slit an X lengthwise half-way down the cucumber.
- Boil about 8 cups of water with 1 cup of coarse sea salt.
- In a metal pot, pour the boiling salt water on the cucumbers. Let sit for about an hour, this will help soften the cucumbers but also retain its crispness.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce ingredients by cutting radish into match-stick pieces, chives into half-inch pieces, and julienning onion and carrot. Mix all sauce ingredients together thoroughly.
- Rinse the cucumbers in cold water and drain in colander. Let sit about 15 minutes to dry.
- Massage the cucumbers with the sauce mixture inside and out.
- Place cucumbers in an air-tight container. Keep at room temperature for a day or two, then refrigerate before eating.
- Enjoy this side dish stand-alone or with regular meals as banchan (side dish).