Spicy. Garlicky. Crunchy and crisp. Oi Muchim (AKA Korean Cucumber Salad) 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.
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!
Transform ordinary cucumbers into a heaping, dripping platter of Korean deliciousness! In 15 minutes!
What is Oi Muchim?
Oi Muchim is a Korean side dish or banchan. Spicy, juicy, crispy, and crunchy — this delicious recipe perks up everything else on the table!
Sometimes referred to as Korean Cucumber Salad or Korean Cucumber Pickle — the flavors are so delicious and addicting.
FYI — Oi Muchim is not kimchi. The flavor profile is similar but Oi Muchim is not fermented. Instead it’s mixed quickly by hand, right before serving. Oi translates “cucumber” and Muchim translates, “mixed by hand.”
Oi Kimchi, on the other hand, is cucumber kimchi that’s been salted and fermented. Delicious but definitely different!
This simple dump-and-mix recipe requires only 8 ingredients! Simply add everything together and mix well.
- Cucumbers. Mini cucumbers or Kirby (pickling) cucumbers work best.
- Gochukaru. Korean dried chili flakes add spicy, smoky, fruity flavor. There is no substitute!
- Fish Sauce. Loads of salty, delicious umami flavor!
- Rice Vinegar. For that delicious tang that makes this dish so addictive!
- Sugar. A little bit of sweetness rounds out all the flavors.
- Garlic + Green Onions. The aromatics that make this dish zippy, fresh, garlicky.
- Sesame Oil. For that nutty fragrance.
- Sesame Seeds. Add crunch with sesame seeds!
What kind of cucumbers should I use?
To make crispy, crunchy Oi Muchim, I recommend cucumbers that are thin, narrow, and extra crunchy and sturdy.
The cucumbers need to be sturdy enough to soak up all the flavorful ingredients without getting water logged. But with a thin enough skin that’s not too tough.
My recommendations: Persian Cucumbers, Mini Cucumbers, or curly Korean cucumbers (you’ll find them at the Korean store). Pickling Cucumbers (also known as Kirby cucumbers) also work but they require a salt-water soak first.
Regular cucumbers — which are long and wrapped in plastic at the grocery store — do not work! Also known as “slicing” cucumbers or English cucumbers, they release too much liquid. The resulting Oi Muchim will not be crisp and crunchy but soggy and watery.
How to Make Oi Muchim (AKA Korean Cucumber Salad):
For Kirby (pickling cucumbers): slice and place in a large bowl. Cover with water and salt. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain.
Add seasoning. Mix thoroughly. That’s it!
If using mini cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, or curly Korean cucumbers — trim ends and quarter into 2 inch chunks. Add ingredients and mix well with hands. The Oi Muchim will be juicy and crunchy!
Eat immediately! Can keep up for 4-5 days in the fridge.
Oi Muchim AKA Korean Cucumber Salad
- Large Mixing Bowl
- rubber or disposable gloves (optional, for mixing)
- 2 lbs Cucumbers (mini cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, curly Korean cucumbers, or Kirby cucumbers preferred)
Salt Soak for Kirby 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 Kirby (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: trim ends and quarter into 2-inch chunks.
- In a large bowl, add the cucumbers. Add the remaining ingredients directly on top. Mix thoroughly, preferably by hand until juicy and completely coated with seasoning. If the dressing looks sparse, keep mixing, making sure to bring the dressing that's pooling at the bottom of the bowl. (Disposable food service gloves work well here.)
- 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.