Traditional Cucumber Kimchi Recipe (Oi-Sobagi)
Korean cucumber kimchi (oi-sobagi) is an essential summertime Korean side dish. This traditional cucumber kimchi recipe helps the kimchi to ferment well and stays crisp until you’ve eaten the entire batch, not to mention how easy it is to make at home.
Summer is the perfect time to try making Korean cucumber kimchi, a popular banchan (side dish) in Korean cuisine. If you haven’t tried it yet, I urge you to do so and discover why so many people are hooked on this healthy kimchi made with cucumbers.
There are two types of cucumber kimchi: stuffed cucumber kimchi, also known as “Oi-sobagi (오이 소박이),” and cut-up cucumber kimchi, called “Oi Kimchi (오이김치).” If you’re looking for a crunchier option that will stay crisp longer, go for the Oi-sobagi.
This traditional cucumber kimchi recipe is known for its exceptional crunchiness, which sets it apart from other cucumber kimchi recipes. Give it a try and taste the difference!
Stuffed Korean Cucumber Kimchi
Not all cucumber kimchi recipes are created equal. Many lose their crisp texture as they ferment, resulting in mushy kimchi. However, this recipe maintains its crunchiness even after the kimchi has fully fermented, ensuring that you can enjoy every bite until the last serving.
Stuffing cucumbers with kimchi filling preserves the cucumber’s texture and flavor and allows for slow fermentation, resulting in better-tasting kimchi using the traditional method. It’s almost like having spicy cucumber pickles, but with a Korean twist.
While cut-up cucumber kimchi is quicker to prepare, it ferments faster and can become mushy quickly. If you want to savor the full-bodied, crunchy flavor of authentic Korean cucumber kimchi, go with the traditional stuffed cucumber recipe. It’s easy to make and ensures a delicious result.
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 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.
Choosing the Right Cucumbers
To make the best cucumber kimchi, it’s important to start with the right type of cucumber. Here are some options that are suitable for making stuffed cucumber kimchi:
- Korean cucumbers: These are long and slim with a pale green color and a very crunchy texture. They are widely available in most Korean grocery stores during the spring and summer.
- Kirby cucumbers: Widely used as pickling cucumbers and available anywhere.
- With a tender skin, they are suitable for making kimchi and widely available.
For this recipe, I chose Kirby cucumbers, which are ideal for making cucumber pickles that maintain their crunchiness.
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.
Other than cucumbers, here are other ingredients you will need:
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 – brings umami flavor
- Korean chili flakes (gochugaru) – spicy flavor
- sugar – provides sweet balance in kimchi
- Korean plum extract (optional) – it adds another layer of sweetness.
- water and salt – to brine the cucumbers. Use coarse sea salt (Korean salt preferred)
Watch 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.
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 kimchi in an airtight container and cover.
Fermentation and Storage Tips
If you prefer the fresh taste, your kimchi is ready to eat right away. For a faster fermentation, leave the kimchi at room temperature for 1-2 days before transferring it to the refrigerator. The kimchi will continue to ferment slowly in the fridge.
How long will it last? If you want your kimchi to ferment quickly, leave it at room temperature for 2-3 days until it is ideally fermented. Then store it in the refrigerator and try to consume it within 2 months.
Cucumber kimchi is a great summer kimchi, so it can go with any dishes that you enjoy during the summer. However, don’t limit this tasty kimchi to just the summer months – it’s perfectly delicious all year round.
Here are some dishes I suggest:
- Beef Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
- 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.
Traditional Cucumber Kimchi Recipe (Oi-Sobagi)
- 8-10 Kirby cucumbers, 4 English cucumbers or 6 Korean cucumbers
- 8 cup (2 liter) water
- 5 tbsp Korean coarse sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup (360 ml) sliced Asian chive, about 1-inch long
- 1/4 onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) grated carrot
- 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 (120 ml) 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.