I'm christening this blog with Cucumber Kimchi because Korean food is important to me. It opened the gateway to exciting flavors, nourishment, and most valuable, community.
More important is my Korean Momma. Bless her heart for always making amazing meals, even when she had to feed me as soon as possible so my "hangry" meltdown would subside :) She taught me that the recipe never had to be perfect as long as you cooked from the soul.
Back to the Cucumber Kimchi. This is a fresher version of the more common Nappa Cabbage Kimchi. It's a heck of a lot easier to make, and an easier crowd-pleaser than it's potent cousin (that I also love and would be in deep depression if I never got to eat it again).
Here are the ingredients: Cucumber, white onion, carrots, jalapeno, garlic, Korean red chili flakes [gochugaru], sesame seed oil, salt, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce*, brown sugar, and sesame seeds.
You want to use Korean cucumbers because the seeds are so much smaller and you get more flesh. The skin is not as thick and isn't bitter either. Whenever these aren't available, I look for Persian cucumbers. They're smaller, but will do the trick!
Chop the cucumbers to about 1/4" pieces. I have these cut into half moons from the fat ends of the cucumbers, and circles from the skinnier end, so that they are about the same size. It's not too critical to make the cuts exactly the same.
This next step is important! Use all of the salt to coat the cucumber pieces so that we can draw extra liquid out of the cucumbers. Unless you're eating all of this in one sitting, right after you mix the spices in, you will end up with a lot of diluted liquid.
Two hours later.
Ta da! The drawn out liquid from these juicy cucumbers.
Now it's time to rinse them. You might be thinking, "Why did you make me draw out the liquid and now we're drenching them in water!". I will tell you the same thing I told my hubby: washing the cucumbers will not add liquid back into it. We're washing these to get the saltiness off.
Pat the cucumbers dry with paper towels and toss them into a large mixing bowl. Get the carrots, white onion, jalapeno, and garlic chopped to mix in.
Jalapeno is definitely not a traditional Korean ingredient, but I love the firmer texture and spice it gives.
Throw all of those veggies in with the cucumbers.
The seasonings and spices are next! This is the heart of this side dish. This is what makes this a kimchi. The seasonings and spices make a harmonious umami that is unreal. Mmmmm ... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Mix everything and behold. This is Cucumber Kimchi.
After you steal a few bites, store this in any glass container you have. If you try to store this in plastic, it will stain like you wouldn't believe, reminding you the power of the gochugaru. The texture will soften after a couple weeks in the fridge, but you can eat this up to a month later, refrigerated.
Here is the Cucumber Kimchi after a couple weeks. Still delicious as ever! Enjoy!
Makes about 2 pints
5 Korean cucumbers, sliced into 1/4" pieces
1 Small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Jalapeno, quartered and sliced, seeds removed to taste
1 Medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Korean red chili flakes [gochugaru]
2 Tablespoons sesame seed oil
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fish sauce*
1/2 Teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 Teaspoon sesame seeds
*To make this vegan, substitute the fish sauce with a vegan substitute like this one from Vegan Miam http://veganmiam.com/recipes/vegan-fish-sauce
1. Slice cucumbers to about 1/4" pieces.
2. In a strainer, coat the pieces in salt. Put the strainer in a bowl, to catch the excess water being pulled out. Set aside in the fridge for at least 30 min up to 2 hours.
3. After some liquid is pulled out from the cucumbers, rinse the cucumber pieces to wash off the salt. Pat dry with a paper towel.
4. Prepare the vegetables by halving and thinly slicing the white onion, quartering and slicing the jalapeno, cutting the carrot into matchsticks, and mincing the garlic.
5. In a large mixing bowl, add the prepped vegetables with the cucumbers. Add the Korean red chili flakes [gochugaru], sesame seed oil, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, and brown sugar.
6. Mix well with hands (they will stain so you might want to use gloves) or wooden spoon, evenly coating the vegetables.
7. Garnish with sesame seeds.
Store in a glass container for up to a month.