With delicious spice and umami flavor, this Quick Cucumber Kimchi is a tangy, crunchy condiment or side dish. Enjoy this spicy cucumber salad added to your favorite rice bowl or as a refreshing light side with nearly any meal!
An Easy Spicy Cucumber Salad
I’m a huge fan of quick pickling and tangy, fermented flavors – and this Quick Cucumber Kimchi is my latest obsession. Instead of the napa cabbage used in my quick kimchi recipe, cucumbers are the stars in this easy, spicy cucumber salad.
Eaten as both a condiment and a side dish, this kimchi variation is downright addictive. So I’m happy to know that it’s also healthy. Kimchi is full of probiotics, which means it’s great for your gut…plus it’s low in calories!
What is Kimchi?
Traditional kimchi is a Korean side made with fermented napa cabbage, Korean chili flakes, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, and other veggies. It often makes an appearance as a side dish on Korean tables – and is absolutely wonderful in kimchi fried rice!
Cucumber kimchi is a variation of the traditional recipe but is still very authentic. This is a quick cucumber kimchi, which doesn’t rely on a long fermentation process – so it’s technically a simple spicy cucumber salad.
Either way, it’s incredibly delicious and adds a tangy crunch to your plate!
For a cucumber salad without the spice, check out my cucumber salad with a tangy vinegar dressing!
What You’ll Need
Quick cucumber kimchi requires a couple items you might not already have in your pantry, but you can easily find them online or at most grocery stores’ Asian section.
- Persian cucumbers – Persian cucumbers, or Lebanese cucumbers, are like a smaller version of English cucumbers. They have a thin skin and fewer, softer seeds. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, English cucumbers are a fine substitute.
- Salt – Kosher salt helps brine the cucumbers and gives them a bit of salty flavor.
- Granulated sugar – Granulated sugar brings out the natural sweetness in the cucumbers.
- Gochugaru – Gochugaru is Korean chili flakes– it adds a bit of spice and smoky flavor to the cucumber kimchi. I’m using Mother In Law’s (affiliate link) brand but there are plenty of options online and in grocery stores.
- Rice vinegar – Rice vinegar adds a bit of acidity to the kimchi and helps bring out the sweetness in the cucumbers.
- Soy sauce – Soy sauce adds saltiness and umami flavor.
- Sesame oil – Sesame oil adds a rich nutty flavor. I highly recommend using toasted sesame oil rather than regular sesame oil.
- Fish sauce – Fish sauce adds that bit of funkiness that’s found in the traditional fermented flavor of kimchi. I really like this fish sauce (affiliate link).
- Garlic – Garlic adds an earthy bite to the kimchi that pairs deliciously with cucumber and soy.
- White onion – Onion is optional in this kimchi but it adds additional earthiness and allium flavor. I personally love cucumber kimchi with the added onion!
How to Make Cucumber Kimchi
This spicy cucumber salad can be ready to enjoy in just minutes!
- Prepare the cucumbers. Sprinkle salt and sugar on the cucumbers in a bowl. Top with hot water and set aside for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Combine the ingredients. Stir together the gochugaru, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, and garlic. Add in the cucumbers and onion. Toss to combine.
- Serve. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.
Like kimchi, this quick cucumber kimchi can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas:
- On its own, straight from the jar (a tasty snack!)
- As a salad topping
- With grilled chicken or steak – I think it’s especially wonderful with steak!
- On rice or grain bowls – like my poke bowl or sweet potato bowl or teriyaki chicken poke bowl!
- With my egg roll in a bowl
- With my easy Korean beef
- Alongside eggs for breakfast or lunch
Basically, cucumber kimchi can be added to anything that needs a pop of fresh and tangy, slightly spicy flavor. Though I’m guilty of eating it straight from the jar myself!
How Long Will This Last?
Cucumber kimchi will keep well in the fridge for about a week. Just be sure to store it in a sealed, airtight container. (Mason jars are perfect!) Note that the cucumbers will continue to release moisture and can eventually become softer, which is why I recommend keeping this for just a week despite the fermentation. I definitely like this best while the cucumbers are still crunchy!
More Pickled Side Dishes:
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- 6 Persian or Lebanese cucumbers, sliced into ¼” thick coins
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon Gochugaru
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 large clove garlic, grated
- ½ white onion, thinly sliced
- Add the sliced cucumbers to a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt and sugar. Top the cucumbers with hot water and set them aside for 15 minutes. Drain the cucumbers and rinse them under cold water.
- While the cucumbers are sitting in the salt & sugar water, stir together the Gochugaru, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, and grated garlic in a large bowl.
- Add the drained cucumbers and white onion to the bowl and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 59Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1737mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.