Spicy. Garlicky. Crunchy and crisp. Oi Muchim (AKA Korean Cucumber Pickle) tastes good with anything and everything!
Back in the day, when I lived with Halmoni, my favorite banchan was Oi Muchim. Every time I opened the fridge, there it would be, calling my name.
This simple banchan (side dish) was my absolute favorite. The one I obsessively ate with 3 bowls of rice. EVERY. TIME. No regrets here, friends.
Fresh, crunchy cucumbers. Fiery, vibrant dressing. Garlicky, spicy, salty — YUM! Plain white rice never tasted so good!
This is the kind of exciting, easy-going side dish that makes every meal better. The kind that people reach for, again and again, even in the face of indulgent, hedonistic pleasures like Galbi Jjim or Pork Belly Bulgogi.
Sure, the spare ingredient list seems modest. But let me assure you — one crispy, crunchy bite will leave you pondering how such a simple, delicious dish could have escaped your Korean food-loving radar all these years.
And the prep couldn’t be simpler. A 30-minute salt bath soak. A 7-ingredient dump-then-mix list.
The end result will be a heaping, dripping platter of ordinary cucumbers transformed into irresistible form. Demolishing a small pile will be no problem, vegetable lover or not!
Essential Ingredient: Pickling Cucumbers
Regular cucumbers also known as “slicing” cucumbers or English cucumbers do not work. They are the long, dark green variety that are commonly found in grocery stores. But for this recipe, they are too watery. The Oi Muchim becomes a soggy, water-logged mess.
Pickling Cucumbers are short and thick with bumpy skin. They are great for pickling; their low water content, density, and shape hold up well in brining liquid. Pickling Cucumbers are sometimes labeled “Kirby” Cucumbers in grocery stores. I’ve only seen them sold in the summer.
Mini Cucumbers are smaller than English Cucumbers. They are commonly used for making pickles. I like using mini cucumbers because they are easy to find in grocery stores. Also, they are sturdy and don’t become soggy.
So look for Pickling/Kirby Cucumbers OR Mini Cucumbers. Hunting for these particular cucumbers is worth it! They truly make the crunchiest, crispiest Oi Muchim.
How to Make Oi Muchim (AKA Korean Cucumber Pickle):
Slice cucumbers and place in a large bowl. Cover with water and salt. (I suggest using high quality, chunky mineral salt. But any kind will do.) Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Skip this step if using mini cucumbers.)
Drain cucumber slices. Add seasoning. Mix thoroughly. That’s it!
Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to eat.
Oi Muchim AKA Korean Cucumber Pickle
- Large Mixing Bowl
- rubber or disposable gloves (optional, for mixing)
- 2 lbs Kirby Cucumbers (or mini cucumbers)
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 5 cups cold water
- 2 Tbsp Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes) (3 Tbsp if you like things spicier)
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar (regular vinegar also works)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
- For Pickling Cucumbers: Slice cucumbers in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in bowl. Cover with brining liquid. The water should just cover the cucumbers. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain cucumber slices. Do not rinse the cucumbers with fresh water!
- For Mini Cucumbers: Slice cucumbers into 1-inch thick slices.
- Add the remaining ingredients directly on top of the cucumbers. Mix thoroughly, preferably by hand (disposable or rubber gloves work really well here). If the dressing looks sparse, keep mixing, making sure to bring the dressing that's pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. The Oi Muchim should last 4-5 days.