Stuffed Korean Cucumber Kimchi (Oi-Sobagi)
Korean cucumber kimchi (oi-sobagi) is an essential summertime Korean side dish. This authentic cucumber kimchi recipe is easy to make at home. Stuffed cucumber kimchi ferments well and stays crisp until you’ve eaten the entire batch.
Summer is a great season to make quick Korean cucumber kimchi – a popular summer side dish (banchan) in Korean cuisine. If you have not tried, I urge you attempt. You will soon learn why so many people are getting hooked on kimchi made with cucumbers.
I have to tell you that the crunchiness of this traditional cucumber kimchi stands out among all other cucumber kimchi recipes.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Not all cucumber kimchi recipe is created equal. Sure, they all start out with a crisp texture at the beginning. However, as the kimchi ferments, it tends to lose its crunchy texture, and sometimes the kimchi becomes mushy.
But not with this recipe for cucumber kimchi! You can maintain the crunchiness all the way through even after the kimchi becomes very fermented. You will enjoy every bite of this delicious kimchi until you finish the entire batch. That’s the way authentic kimchi recipes should be.
Korean names for cucumber kimchi
Stuffed cucumber kimchi is called “Oi-sobagi (오이 소박이)”, and the cut-up cucumber kimchi is called “Oi Kimchi (오이김치)”.
Which will stay crunchier longer? Definitely the Oi-sobagi.
Cucumber kimchi vs cucumber salad
I noticed that many people, even some food bloggers who posted cucumber kimchi recipes on their sites, are confused with cucumber kimchi with Korean cucumber salad (Oi-muchim). They are not the same and made completely different. Korean cucumber salad is a quick side dish and it is not intended to be fermented.
Why you should stuff cucumber kimchi
Stuffing cucumber with kimchi filling keeps the cucumber intact and locks in its texture and flavor. It helps the cucumber to ferment slowly creating better tasting kimchi — the traditional way of making cucumber kimchi.
It is almost like having spicy cucumber pickle, but in Korean taste!
The cut-up cucumber makes a quick kimchi and it is easier to prepare, but it ferments faster and often becomes mushy quickly. If you wish to consume your cucumber kimchi within a few days, it doesn’t really matter whether to stuff it or cut it up.
However, if you prefer to enjoy the real crunchy and full-bodied flavor, go with traditional stuffed cucumber kimchi recipe. It’s the way an authentic cucumber kimchi should be, and it’s easy to make.
My cookbook, “Korean Cooking Favorites”, will share other interesting yet authentic Korean kimchi varieties. Also, don’t forget to check my different types kimchi recipes for more easy homemade kimchi ideas.
Cucumber kimchi recipe ingredients
What cucumbers to use
Good cucumber kimchi should start with a right type of cucumber. Below are the cucumbers suitable for making stuffed cucumber kimchi:
- Korean cucumbers: Long and slim with pale green color. Very crunchy! Most Korean grocery stores carry them throughout spring and summer.
- Kirby cucumbers: Widely used as pickling cucumbers and available anywhere.
- English cucumbers: Tender skin makes them suitable for making kimchi. Widely available.
I chose Kirby cucumbers this time. Kirby cucumbers are great for making cucumber pickles, which maintains the same crunchiness.
Cucumber kimchi filling
- Asian chives – You can substitute with green onion
- carrot – adds more texture and taste
- onion, garlic, ginger paste – savory addition
- Korean fish sauce or other fish sauce
- Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
- sugar – provides sweet balance in kimchi
- Korean plum extract (optional) – it adds another layer of sweetness but omittable.
- water and salt – to brine the cucumbers. Use coarse sea salt (Korean salt preferred)
Recipe Success Tips
- Use salted boiling water — Most cucumber kimchi recipes use plain salt or cold salted water. That works fine and makes good tasting kimchi up to the early stage of fermentation. However, using boiling water locks in the texture of kimchi longer.
- Would the boiling water cook the cucumbers? — Not really. It definitely softens the skin of the cucumber, and helps them lose their stiffness faster, but the boiling water will also help the salt penetrate into the cucumber faster and keeps them crunchy longer.
Watch Cucumber Kimchi Recipe Video
How to make Cucumber Kimchi
How many cucumbers to use? It depends on the type of cucumbers — 8-10 for Kirby cucumbers, 5-6 for Korean cucumbers, or 4 for English cucumbers.
Cut through a cucumber in a cross pattern, but leave one end of the cucumber uncut.
Combine water and salt; bring to boil. Pour the boiling salted water over the cucumbers in a mixing bowl.
Put a weight on top of the cucumbers so that they stay immersed in the salt brine. Let them sit for 1 hour, then drain.
Cut Asian chives into 1 to 1 1/2-inch long pieces.
To make the kimchi filling, mix together the Asian chives, carrot, onion, garlic, ginger puree, Korean chili flakes, Korean anchovy sauce, sugar, Korean plum extract (optional), toasted sesame seeds, and water in a mixing bowl.
Stuff the cucumber with the kimchi filling, coating the outside of the cucumber with the filling as well.
Stack the stuffed cucumber kimchi in an airtight container and cover.
How to ferment and store cucumber kimchi
Cucumber kimchi is ready to eat right away if you like the fresh taste. If you prefer them to ferment fast, leave the kimchi at room temperature for 1-2 days, then keep them in the refrigerator after that. The kimchi will continue to ferment slowly in the fridge .
How long is cucumber kimchi good for?
If you want your cucumber kimchi to ferment quickly, let the kimchi sit on the room temperature for the next 2-3 days. It should be ideally fermented. Then store it in the refrigerator and try to consume within 2 months.
What can you serve with cucumber kimchi
Cucumber kimchi is a great summer kimchi, Therefore it can go with any dishes that you enjoy during the summer. However, don’t limit this tasty kimchi for just for the summer. It is perfectly delicious all year round. Here are a few dishes I suggest:
- Beef Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
- Classic Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)
- Spicy Pork Bulgogi (Jeyuk Bokkeum)
- Jjajangmyeon (Korean Noodles with Black Bean Sauce)
- Korean Egg Rice (Gyeran Bap)
This recipe was originally posted in June 2011. I’ve updated the recipe with a few changes, new photos, and more information.
Stuffed Korean Cucumber Kimchi (Oi-Sobagi)
- 8-10 Kirby cucumbers, Or use either 4 English cucumbers or 6 Korean cucumbers
- 8 cup water
- 5 tbsp Korean coarse sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup Asian chive, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup carrot, grated
- 6 tbsp Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
- 5 tbsp Korean anchovy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic , finely minced
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp Korean plum extract (maeshil cheong), optional
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup water
- Cut through a cucumber in a cross pattern, but leave one end of the cucumber uncut. Put cucumbers in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine water and salt; bring to boil. Pour the boiling salted water over the cucumbers in a mixing bowl. Put a weight on top of the cucumbers so that they stay immersed in the salt brine. Let them sit for 1 hour, then drain.
- To make the kimchi filling, mix together the Asian chives, onion, carrot, Korean chili flakes, Korean anchovy sauce, garlic, ginger puree, sugar, Korean plum extract (optional), sesame seeds, and water in a mixing bowl.
- Stuff the cucumber with the kimchi filling, coating the outside of the cucumber with the filling as well. Stack the stuffed cucumber kimchi in an airtight container and cover.
To store and ferment cucumber kimchi
- Cucumber kimchi is ready to eat right away if you like the fresh taste. If you prefer them to ferment fast, leave the kimchi at room temperature for one day, then keep them in the refrigerator after that. Within the next 2-3 days, your stuffed cucumber kimchi should be ideally fermented. Try to consume cucumber kimchi within 2 months.