This Korean Cucumber Salad (oi muchim) recipe is so delicious! Spicy, crunchy, and full of flavor it is an Asian Cucumber Salad made with gochugaru, which is Korean red pepper flakes. It's quick to make and comes together in just a few minutes. Perfect to serve when entertaining, or great as a side or I love it as a snack!
This is my favorite Korean side dish. I tried it for the first time at Korean bbq in Seol, Korea and fell in love and knew I had to figure out how to make it at home. I tested this recipe over and over to try to get it as close as I could to what I ate in Korea.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
I love this recipe and make it for a snack all the time. I'm so excited to share it with you and think you'll love it too.
- Quick and Easy - this recipe is SO quick and SO easy, it comes together in just 5 minutes. Just chop some cucumber, measure and mix together the other ingredients and combine and it's ready to go! No cooking here!
- Fresh and Good for you - this salad is fresh, refreshing, nutritious and tastes amazing. You'll feel great after eating this!
Below is a list of ingredients needed for this recipe. Follow our tips on each ingredient for best results.
- cucumbers - cucumbers are the highlight of this dish! I used an English cucumber. Other types of cucumber also work great, just make sure they are a variety without a lot of seeds or they will get mushy.
- soy sauce - soy sauce it used to add a little flavor and saltiness.
- rice vinegar - the rice vinegar adds the tanginess and is the main liquid for this sauce.
- gochugaru - the star of the show and adds the spice! It also adds a hint of smokiness and a slight hint of sweetness. There isn't a great substitution for gochugaru other than gochujang. See the "substitution" section below for some ideas.
- sugar - just a touch of sugar, gives it that added sweetness for that spicy/ slightly sweet flavor and really accents the other ingredients. When testing this recipe, I tried it without sugar and it wasn't the same. It definitely needs that subtle sweetness.
- minced garlic - the minced garlic adds a lot of flavor and pulls it all together for the perfect taste.
- green onions - for garnishing and add a little flavor and texture.
- sesame seeds - the sesame seeds also add a finishing flavor and texture wrapping it all up into one delicious dish.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Korean Cucumber Salad
Use these process shots to help get the results you are wanting. The pictures can help with texture and be a visual guide for best results.
1. Slice cucumbers into ⅛" slices. If making the "make ahead" version, place cucumbers in a sieve. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over top and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with water then blot off the water with a tea towel or similar.
2. Pour the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and minced garlic over the sliced cucumbers in a bowl. OR place in a small, separate bowl.
3. Pour the gochugaru over top and mix until well combined. OR add the gochugaru to the small bowl of spices and whisk together to combine. Then pour over the cucumbers and toss to combine.
4. Sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds over the top and serve!
Hint: If you're in a hurry, you don't have to mix the ingredients together in a bowl first. You can simply measure them over the cucumber and give it a good stir.
We love switching things up when we're in the kitchen. Try any of these variations and substitutions for something a little different.
- Cucumbers - you can use any type of cucumber desired, you just want about 250 - 300g of cucumber. You can use Persian, cucumber, pickling and more!
- Gochugaru - There isn't a good substitute for gochugaru, other than gochujang, which is gochugaru in paste form. If needed, you can use red pepper flakes instead. It isn't a great subsitute and you'll need a lot less. Start with ½ teaspoon then add to taste. While not a great substitute, it will still taste delicious. You can also try mixing some cayenne pepper with smoked paprika for a similar taste.
- Black Sesame Seeds - use black sesame seeds instead of white for a stronger sesame taste and a few more antioxidants.
- Sugar Free - make this sugar free by skipping the sugar. You'll miss that hint of sweetness that goes in its flavor profile, but it is still delicious.
Learn From Us
One time when testing this recipe, I made it around lunch time with the intent to serve it with dinner. I ate some with my lunch (every time I make it I have to make extra so I can snack on it, lol) and it was perfect. Dinner time rolled around and it was totally mushy. I did more research and figured out how to keep the cucumbers crunchy longer! See the "make ahead" below or in the recipe card.
Storing Cucumber Salad
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. We recommend eating this fresh, but if storing or serving later, we recommend following our "make ahead" directions to keep the cucumbers from getting mushy.
After slicing the cucumber, place in sieve or strainer and pour 1 teaspoon salt over top and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with water, then squeeze out any excess water. Finish the recipe as directed. This will keep the cucumbers crunchy.
Use the "make ahead" directions to draw the water out of the cucumbers if not serving immediately. This will help keep the cucumbers crisp and from getting mushy.
Thinly chop cucumber. Mix together rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, minced garlic and gochugaru together in a bowl. Pour on top of the cucumber and mix until well coated. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
It lasts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. We highly recommend using salt to draw out the moisture in the cucumbers before making if not serving immediately. This will prevent the cucumbers from becoming mushy.
Oi Muchim will usually last about 3 days in the refrigerator. Re-mix all the ingredients together if they've separated at all before serving. If not eating Oi Muchim immediately, we recommend using salt to pull out the moisture from the cucumbers before making.
Other Light Dishes
Looking for a light fresh dish? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with this:
Korean Cucumber Salad
- 1 English cucumber about 300g
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce I used low sodium
- 1 Tablespoon gochugaru korean red pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Slice cucumber into ⅛"-¼" slices.
- Mix together rice vinegar, soy sauce, gochugaru, sugar and minced garlic together in a small bowl. Pour over the cucumber and combine well. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve.
To Make Ahead:
- After slicing the cucumber, place in sieve or strainer and pour 1 teaspoon salt over top and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with water, then squeeze out any excess water. Finish the recipe as directed. This will keep the cucumbers crunchy.
- You can easily double, triple or even 10 times this recipe for more.
- We have used black sesame seeds in this recipe when I ran out of white and it was delicious! It added a stronger sesame flavor, but everyone still enjoyed it.
- Most cucumber varieties work in this dish, but we recommend a variety with few seeds. The varieties that have lots of seeds tend to be mush pretty quickly in this dish.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Mix it around before eating.
- It is not recommended to freeze this recipe