Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)

Difficulty Easy

A Korean side dish that’s quick and easy: Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad or Oi Muchim! Fresh and crunchy cucumbers are quickly mixed with a vibrant, exciting dressing. Salty, spicy, and sweet. So good and so easy!

Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)

Korean Cucumber Salad, also called Oi Muchim, is a popular Korean side dish. Fresh cucumbers are quickly mixed with a Korean dressing and mixed by hand. Easy to make with pantry ingredients, it’s the perfect side dish that tastes good with everything. The best way to eat cucumbers, in my humble opinion!

Oi Muchim is often served with Korean barbecue grilled meat. An easy recipe that adds a refreshing crunch to any meal. Also tastes good with a simple bowl of white rice.

For best results, I recommend Mini cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, Japanese Cucumbers, Curly Cucumbers, or Korean cucumbers. They all keep their crunch and firmness, even when mixed with an assertive dressing. In Korean households, it’s especially popular to make it when fresh cucumbers are at their peak in the garden.

In Korean, Oi means “cucumber,” and Muchim means “hand-mixed.” The hand mixing is an essential Korean cooking method. It releases the juices without crushing the cucumber. The end result is a crispy, juicy, crunchy cucumber salad.

korean cucumber salad (oi muchim) with rice

Ingredients:

  • Cucumbers. I recommend Mini, Curly, Persian, Japanese, or Korean cucumbers. They don’t contain lots of seeds (and water) so they stay firm and crunchy. They also have a thin skin, so there’s no need to peel them. I do not recommend English cucumbers (wrapped individually in plastic wrap) as they will quickly become soggy and water-logged.
  • Gochukaru. Korean chili flakes or Korean red pepper flakes.
  • Fish Sauce. Adds lots of salty, sharp umami flavor. Can be subbed with soy sauce for a vegan option.
  • Rice Vinegar. Adds an acidic tang. Swap with white vinegar, apple vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
  • Sugar. Adds sweetness and rounds out all the other flavors.
  • Garlic + Green Onions. Fresh garlic and green onion adds intense garlicky flavor.
  • Sesame Oil. For nutty fragrance.
  • Sesame Seeds. Adds crunch!
hands holding a rice bowl with cucumber muchim on the side

Instructions:

  1. Prep cucumbers. Wash cucumbers and trim ends, if needed. Cut into half lengthwise then chop into chunky, 1-inch half moons. Thick pieces are ideal. Or, cut into cucumber slices, but make sure they are thick 1/4-inch rounds.
  2. Add dressing. In a large bowl, add ingredients for the dressing directly on top of the cucumbers.
  3. Serve and enjoy. Mix well, using hands, and serve immediately!

PRO Tips:

  • Use food preparation gloves. To make hand mixing easier. Also, to prevent cross-contamination. If you don’t have them, use clean hands.
  • Store leftovers in airtight container. Leftovers will stay good for 3-5 days, tight sealed, in the fridge.
  • Tastes best the day it’s made. The fresh, crunchy texture is so delicious and appealing!

Watch how to make it:

Variations:

  • Make it vegan. Swap out the fish sauce with soy sauce to make it vegan.
  • Adjust spicy level. Add only 1 Tbsp of Gochukaru instead of 2 Tbsp for a less spicy version.
  • Add chives. When wild chives are in season, I add a large handful of fresh wild chives cut into 2-inch chunks. So delicious and incredibly fresh!

Serve with:

Refreshing and crisp, Oi Muchim goes especially well with Korean BBQ meats: Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi, Chicken Bulgogi, or LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs.

I also like to serve with Korean Purple Rice and a bubbling jjigae (soup or stew): Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew) or Seafood Soondubu Jjigae. So good! A complete Korean meal.

two hands holding a platter of oi muchim (korean cucumber pickle)

FAQ

Is Oi Muchim a kimchi?

No, Oi Muchim is not a kimchi because it’s not fermented. The flavor profile is similar but it’s a quick, mixed salad that does not undergo the fermentation process.

How long does this dish stay good?

Oi Muchim can last for 3-5 days in the fridge, tightly wrapped. It won’t be as crunchy but as it soaks in the dressing over time, it will become juicy and deeply flavorful.

Do I really need to hand-mix the Korean Cucumber Salad?

You don’t need to mix the cucumbers and the dressing by hand but that’s the way it tastes best. Hand mixing releases the juices and it’s the way Koreans make this simple cucumber salad.

Other easy Korean side dishes:

close up shot of korean cucumber salad

Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Fresh, crunchy cucumbers. Fiery, vibrant dressing. Make this classic Korean side dish for your next BBQ, party, or weeknight dinner. Oi Muchim (Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad) tastes good with anything and everything! And SO EASY to make at home. On the table in 15 minutes.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Course Side
Cuisine Korean
Servings 6 (as side)
Calories 75 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • rubber or disposable gloves (optional, for mixing)

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs Cucumbers (mini cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, curly Korean cucumbers preferred)

Dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes) (3 Tbsp if you like things spicier)
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar (regular vinegar also works)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Instructions
 

  • Prep cucumbers. Wash cucumbers and trim ends, if needed. Cut into half lengthwise then cut into chunky, 1-inch half moons.
  • Add the dressing. Add dressing ingredients directly on top of the cucumbers. Mix thoroughly, preferably by hand, until juicy and completely coated with seasoning.
  • Note: If the dressing looks sparse, keep mixing, making sure to bring up the dressing that's pooling at the bottom of the bowl. (Disposable food service gloves work well here.)
  • Serve and enjoy. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. The Oi Muchim tastes best the day it's made but should last in the fridge 4-5 days.

Video

Notes

Pro Tips:
  • Use food preparation gloves. To make hand mixing easier. Also, to prevent cross-contamination. If you don’t have them, wash your hands well before mixing.
  • Store leftovers in a table-ready glass Tupperware container. That way, you can pull it out and serve directly on the table. That’s the Korean way to store dishes that can be pulled out of the fridge and immediately consumed.
  • Tastes best the day it’s made. The fresh, crunchy texture is so delicious and appealing!

Nutrition

Calories: 75kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 519mgPotassium: 303mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 940IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Cucumber Salad, Korean, Oi Muchim, Spicy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
15 minutes, All Recipes, Dinner with Friends, Featured, Korean, Potluck, Salad, Side, Weeknight Meals

2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So easy to make and a great addition to ANY meal!

  2. 5 stars
    New favorite go-to side — love this recipe, Lis! The flavor is spicy and delicious served immediately and mellows out in the following days in the fridge. Loved the seasoning so much that I used the same method on some Korean radish I had in my fridge… a keeper for sure, and I’ll be making this consistently from now on!

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