Kimchi is so much more than what most of us are familiar with, it is like cheese in a way in that with similar basic ingredients, and methods, many different cheeses can be produced. So it is with kimchi, there are almost 200 foundation recipes for kimchi and then multiple versions of each of those. Also like cheese, kimchi is a fermented food. Kimchi contains beneficial bacteria that aid digestion.
Kimchi is also seasonal in the sense that kimchi was made with what was fresh at the time, so summer is the time for kimchi made with summer produce. I have a glut of cucumbers from the yard right now so it is time to make some cucumber kimchi. This is a quick and easy version that can be eaten immediately, but it doesn’t store well. So only make what you can eat within 3 days.
Cucumbers have a long history and date back over 3,000 years as a cultivated crop. Domestication began in the Indian sub continent and slowly spread outward from there. The Ancient Greeks and Romans were familiar with cucumbers and regarded them as medicinal as well as a food. The Emperor Tiberius of Rome demanded that he have cucumbers available year round and the Romans came up with techniques to grow cucumbers even through the winter time. Cucumbers are also mentioned in the Bible as one of the foods available to the Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt. The Emperor Charlemagne in 9th century France knew of cucumbers and by a few hundred years later they were known all over Europe and had been transported to the New World.
World cucumber/gherkin production is in the millions of tons, with China producing over 54 million tons a year. Turkey ranks 2nd, U.S.A. 7th, Mexico 8th, and South Korea 18th. Different countries produce different types of cucumbers, the main three being, slicing, pickling, and burpless. Asian cucumbers usually fall into the burpless category.
Recipe: Cucumber Kimchi.
I only used a couple of cucumbers because this dish needs to be eaten within 2 to 3 days. Wash cucumbers and then top and tail them and peel. If you are using the small store bought baby cucumbers or seedless cucumbers you can leave the peel on.
Cut into 2-3 inch sections and scoop seedless out with a spoon. Again you may not need to do this depending which type of cucumber you bought. The seeds can be bitter in regular American cucumbers and it is the seeds that can also cause a little tummy upset, hence people wanting burpless or basically seedless cucumbers.
Cut into slices and place in bowl or deep plate.
Sprinkle with 1 tsp good salt, kosher or sea salt.Mix. Cover with plastic wrap.
Place a plate or saucer on top to gently weigh down on the cucumber slices. This process helps remove excess water. While this is sitting to one side gather your other ingredients. I also found garlic chives and Egyptian Walking onions in the yard. You can use spring onions or English chives if you can’t find Korean chives.
Wash your produce and let drain, or pat dry. Cut the garlic chives on a slant with scissors. chop the onion finely. I only use a small amount of the chives and the onion, it all depends on personal taste. So 1 tbsp of garlic chives, 1 of finely chopped spring onion, and 1 tablespoon of red onion. I also added some slivers of carrot to add a bit more color.
Gather the rest of the ingredients. The cucumbers will have ‘sweated’ some liquid by now. Drain the liquid.
Rinse the cucumber slices, drain and place back in bowl on top of a couple of paper towels. pat dry with paper towel.
Place prepared cucumbers in large bowl along with 1 tsp Korean red pepper flakes, 1 tsp sugar, and up to 1/2 tsp fish sauce. I also add a little black pepper. Mix well.
Let this rest a couple of minutes and then add the finely chopped onion and sliced chives and shredded carrot. And you are done. You can eat this immediately or keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The flavors will develop better if you leave in out on the counter for an hour or so before putting it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
You can use your cucumber kimchi as a banchan or you can add fresh ripe tomatoes and serve it as a salad or mix it in with lettuce and spring greens. You can also add it to sandwiches for extra zing.
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Debora Marzec.
You may also enjoy reading Eating At Gwangmyeong Traditional Market, Foodie’s Delight: The Street Food Of Korea, and Bibim Guksu: Korean Cold Spicy Noodle Salad.