Spicy Korean Cucumber Pickles (Oi Muchim)

Spicy Korean cucumber pickles recipe

The Spruce / Andrew Bui

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Inactive Time: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
29 Calories
1g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 29
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 531mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 129mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spicy Korean cucumber pickles, called oi muchim, are a typical side dish (banchan) served alongside a Korean barbecue. But they also work quite nicely in a sandwich, alongside grilled meats, or with scrambled eggs. You can even serve them skewered as a garnish for cocktails, like in a martini or bloody Mary.

These cucumber pickles are made by sprinkling crunchy cucumbers with a bit of salt, letting them sit to extract their liquid, and then tossing them with a few seasonings. They're ready within an hour or two, but they will keep for up to a week covered and chilled; just note that the spiciness will increase as it sits.

"The perfect side or topping for any meal lies in well-seasoned pickled cucumbers." —Lauryn Bodden

Spicy Korean Cucumber Pickles Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Kirby cucumbers, or hothouse or English cucumbers

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 1 clove minced garlic, optional

  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chile flakes), or red chile flakes

  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Korean spicy cucumber pickles
    The Spruce / Andrew Bui
  2. Chop the Kirby cucumbers into 1/2-inch pieces. If you're using hothouse or English cucumbers, halve them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then cut them into about 1/2-inch pieces. 

    Chop Kirby cucumbers
    The Spruce / Andrew Bui
  3. Put the chopped cucumbers in a colander set over a large bowl. Sprinkle the cucumbers with the salt, and toss them gently to combine. Let them sit for 30 to 60 minutes. The salt will draw out water from the cucumbers.

    Cucumbers in a colander
    The Spruce / Andrew Bui
  4. Squeeze the cucumber pieces firmly to release more water; doing this in small handfuls will be the most effective.

  5. Lay the cucumber pieces in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels; roll up the towels tightly around the cucumbers to squeeze out even more water.

    Cucumber pieces on paper towels
    The Spruce / Andrew Bui
  6. Put the cucumbers in a medium bowl. Add the minced garlic, if using, and toss to combine. Add the pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Mix everything to combine thoroughly. Add the sesame seeds, if desired, and toss to combine.

    Cucumbers in bowl mixed with seasonings
    The Spruce / Andrew Bui
  7. Cover and chill the pickles for at least 30 to 60 minutes before serving.

  8. Serve and enjoy!

    Spicy Korean cucumber pickles in a bowl
    The Spruce / Andrew Bui

Tips

  • The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Keep in mind that they will lose some of their crunchiness.
  • You can also use this recipe with turnips and cauliflower, skipping the salting and squeezing steps.