This Korean cucumber salad is a small side dish or banchan, often served alongside a main course and cooked rice in a Korean meal. Known in Korean as oi muchim, it’s really delicious—refreshing and spicy at the same time. Serve with your favorite Korean recipes, or as an easy appetizer!
Note: We partnered with Frontier Co-op to bring you this Oi Muchim recipe. As always on The Woks of Life, all opinions are our own. Enjoy!
It’s All About the Banchan
When we go out to a Korean restaurant, one of the biggest things we look forward to is the small plates of tasty morsels they offer for free with your meal—the banchan.
The more variety, the better. This way of eating is basically why a Korean restaurant is one of my ideal options whenever I’m super hungry. Within minutes of getting seated at your table, there are at least 8 little dishes of fun things to start snacking on, and they get replenished when you run out!
There are many types of banchan, including:
- Kimchi: fermented vegetables—the most ubiquitous and essential!
- Namul: steamed, blanched, marinated, and/or stir-fried vegetables
- Bokkeum: stir-fried dishes
- Jjim: steamed or boiled proteins, such as fish or egg
- Jeon: pan-fried pancakes
- Jorim: broth simmered dishes
This dish, oi muchim, means “cucumber mixed with seasonings,” and its flavor is somewhat reminiscent of a kimchi, with its mix of spicy, sweet, tangy, seafood-y elements. However, it doesn’t require fermentation and takes minutes to put together.
Our recipe was adapted from our favorite Korean food blog and YouTube channel, Maangchi.
We made some slight changes, including salting the cucumber before mixing it with other ingredients to draw out some of its excess moisture, and adding fish sauce and rice vinegar to the seasoning mixture for a bit more depth and acidity. We hope you like our version!
A Key Ingredient: Gochugaru
Gochugaru is a Korean chili flake or powder that’s vibrantly red and mildly spicy. It’s not only a key ingredient in kimchi and salads like this, but also stews like our Kimchi Jigae and Soondubu Jigae.
It’s a very specific ingredient, so it’s best not to substitute it with other chili powders, like standard chili powder or Sichuan chili flakes, which are both much spicier and less sweet than gochugaru.
Gochugaru is available in Korean grocery stores like H-Mart, as well as other Asian markets. It’s also increasingly available in specialty food stores and well-stocked supermarkets. Frontier Co-op, a member-owned company producing high-quality spices and organic herbs, just launched their own gochugaru. It had a great spicy kick to it and a nice sweetness that made these cucumbers shine.
Not only is the company committed to quality, they’re dedicated to sustainable sourcing, offering Fair Trade Certified products, and strengthening farmers and their communities.
On to the recipe!
Oi Muchim: Recipe Instructions
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and then cut each half lengthwise again, so you have 4 long pieces. Cut the cucumber on a diagonal, rotating the pieces as you cut to get roughly triangular pieces.
Add the onion and salt, and set aside for 20 minutes to allow the cucumber and onion to release excess water.
In a large bowl, add the scallion, garlic, soy sauce, gochugaru, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sugar, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Mix well.
Pour off the liquid from the cucumber and onion, then add them to the seasoning mixture along with the carrot.
Toss well to combine all the ingredients.
That’s it! Serve with your favorite Korean dishes or as a simple appetizer:
Here are some of our favorite Korean recipes to serve this with:
- Beef & Kimchi Fried Rice
- 10-Minute Pork Belly Kimchi Bowls
- Easy Bibimbap
- Soondubu Jigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
- Kimchi Jigae (Kimchi Stew)
- Bulgogi Bowls
- Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon)
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Japchae (Stir-fried Glass Noodles)
Oi Muchim (Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad)
- 14 ounces seedless cucumber (about 1 large or 3 small)
- 1/4 cup onion (white or yellow onion; thinly sliced or roughly chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 scallion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 small carrot (thinly sliced and julienned)
- Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and then cut each half lengthwise again, so you have 4 long pieces. Cut the cucumber on a diagonal, rotating the pieces as you cut to get roughly triangular pieces. Add the onion and salt, and set aside for 20 minutes to allow the cucumber and onion to release excess water.
- In a large bowl, add the scallion, garlic, soy sauce, gochugaru, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sugar, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Mix well.
- Pour off the liquid from the cucumber and onion, then add them to the seasoning mixture along with the carrot. Toss and serve.