Korean cucumber salad is easy and quick to make and ready in 10 minutes. This gently spicy cucumber salad retains the refreshingly crisp and crunchy texture of cucumber even a few days after you made. It makes an excellent Korean side dish to accompany any of your Asian main dishes.

Spicy Korean cucumber salad is garnished with green onion and served in a black bowl.

When it comes to the bounteous summer where I see lots of garden fresh cucumbers, I often make this crisp Korean cucumber salad as an easy side dish to complement my Korean Dinner Recipes or other Asian dishes.

In Korean, cucumber salad is called oi muchim (오이무침). Oi means ‘cucumber’, and muchim is a cooking action of ‘tossing with seasoning by hand’. It is a Korean traditional way of tossing various vegetable salad with seasoning. You will find the muchim techniques in this easy recipe and how to work it.

Since it is one of the simplest Korean side dish recipes and it only takes just a few minutes from start to finish, you might make this salad routinely throughout the summer or even in the middle of winter.

It’s gently spicy – of course, tangy, sweet and crunchy, this quick cucumber salad recipe will be a great companion to my 30-minute Crispy Beef Bulgogi, LA Galbi, or Chicken Bulgogi. I guarantee that everyone will enjoy this refreshing salad.

Also, you can adjust the amount of spiciness by reducing the amount of Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru) according to your taste. How good is that?

Cucumber slices mixed with onion and Korean chili flakes seasoning is served in a black bowl.

What cucumbers to use for Korean cucumber salad

  • Korean cucumber – the best option
  • Kirby cucumber (pickling cucumber)
  • English cucumber
  • Persian or Lebanese cucumber
  • Japanese cucumber
Korean cucumber is slender and bumpy with thin skin.

Korean cucumber is the best option if you have an access to it. It is light in green color and slender and bumpy with thin skin. They contain less seeds and very crunchy, which makes a perfect choice for Korean salad.

The next best option would be Kirby cucumber (aka pickling cucumber), English, Persian, or Japanese cucumber. See the use of Kirby cucumbers in my Cucumber Kimchi Recipe and the English cucumber in my Beef and Cucumber Stir-Fry Recipe.

If you only have waxy American cucumber, you should peel off some of the skin. The skin of waxy cucumber are too thick and fibrous, it makes salad unpleasant and bitter in taste.

You can also use the same salad dressing recipe to Korean pickled cucumber instead of fresh cucumber, if that’s what you have on hand. It makes a tasty pickled cucumber side dish.

Recipe Note

Two things I recommend you to try for the best result.

  • Pre-season the cucumber slices with a little amount of salt for 5 minutes to extract the water out of cucumber. By removing some of the moisture, it helps cucumber to remain its crispness all the way and prevent the seasoning from being diluted after salad is tossed. I also recommend smashing your cucumber gently 2-3 times before you slice it.
  • Add a tiny amount of Korean chili paste (gochujang) along with Korean chili flakes (gochugaru). It is optional but the gochujang adds thickness to the seasoning, which helps the seasoning to bind with cucumbers better.

How to make Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)

Wack Korean cucumber with a rolling pin to soften up.

Step 1: Smash the cucumber gently 2-3 times using a meat hammer or rolling pin to loosen it up.

A small amount of salt is sprinkled over cucumber slices in a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Slice cucumbers into thin slices. around 1/8-inch, and put them in a mixing bowl. Toss the cucumber slices with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

salted cucumber released its excess liquid content.

Step 3: When you see excess liquid being extracted from the cucumber, drain the water off.

Add onion, and other Korean cucumber salad dressing ingredients to mix with cucumber.

Step 4: Add the thinly sliced onion (or chopped green onion), Korean chili flakes, Korean chili paste, vinegar, garlic, sugar, Korean soup soy sauce (or tuna sauce), sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds.

Toss Korean cucumber salad with the dressing seasoning by hand.

Step 5: Using your fingers and thumb, rub the Korean chili paste to loosen up and mingle with other seasoning ingredients.

Cucumber slices with spicy seasoning are hand tossed to mix.

Step 6: Start tossing the cucumber all together until cucumber slices are well coated with the seasoning. Taste and add more salt if needed

How to store Korean cucumber salad

Serve this spicy cucumber salad right away or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This Korean cucumber salad should always be stored in the fridge up to 5 days.

Korean cucumber salad is served in a black serving bowl with chopsticks.

This recipe was originally posted in June 2010. I’ve updated the recipe with a few changes, new photos, and more information.

More Cucumber Recipes

If you have abundant cucumbers, try my Korean cucumber recipes. Here are some of my favorites.

Crunchy refreshing Korean cucumber salad is a perfect side dish for any Korean main dish

Quick Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)

Korean cucumber salad is easy to make and ready in 10 minutes. This gently spicy cucumber salad retains the refreshingly crisp and crunchy texture of cucumber even a few days after you made.
5 from 2 ratings

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • Wack the cucumber gently 2-3 times using a meat hammer or rolling pin to loosen it up.
  • Slice cucumbers into thin slices. around 1/8-inch, and put them in a bowl. Toss the cucumber slices with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Let it sit for 5 minutes. When you see some water being extracted from the cucumber, drain the water off.
  • Add the thinly sliced onion (or chopped green onion), Korean chili flakes, Korean chili paste, vinegar, garlic, Korean soup soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds.
  • Using your fingers and thumb, rub the Korean chili paste to loosen up and mingle with other seasoning ingredients and start tossing the cucumber all together until cucumber slices are well coated with the seasoning. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  • Serve this cucumber salad right away or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This cucumber salad should always be stored in the fridge up to 5 days.
Calories: 57kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 784mg, Potassium: 181mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 676IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 1mg
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