Do you enjoy eating spicy food in hot weather? I love the refreshing combination of cool cucumbers and hot chile peppers, as in the case of Korean oi muchim. This quick and easy salad makes a great potluck dish, or a fiery alternative to kosher dill or bread and butter pickles alongside sandwiches. And, of course, it's excellent alongside Korean BBQ (meat or tofu).
This spicy cucumber salad contains many of the same ingredients as cucumber kimchi but it isn't fermented, so you can eat it right away. I like to use Kirby or pickling cucumbers, which have a firm, crisp texture, thin skin, and small seeds. Korean, Japanese, and Persian cucumbers may also be used.
The cucumbers are thinly sliced and coated in a zesty blend of vinegar, sesame, and gochugaru (also known as Korean red pepper powder, which I highly recommend keeping as a pantry staple). It takes seconds to prepare, yet it's big on flavor and refreshment. What more could you want on a hot day?!
Oi Muchim (Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1-2 teaspoons gochugaru
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, chopped
2 Kirby cucumbers, sliced 1/8-inch thick
Combine all ingredients except cucumbers in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
Add cucumber slices and toss to coat (wear gloves and use your hands, or use tongs).
Serve room temperature or chilled.
(Images: Emily Ho)