Korean Cucumber Salad

There are all sorts of variations of this salad. I like mine on the sweeter side with a big kick of spicy. The one thing I don’t use is toasted sesame seeds. Call me weird but I just don’t like picking all those little seeds from between my teeth (ew). Anyway, this is a pretty simple banchan dish to make. I make this a lot since it goes quite nicely with non-Korean dishes as well. Depending on my mood, I will add more gochujang than what the recipe calls for but I’m addicted to that stuff. I also have to add a bit more honey when I do this to keep the balance of sweet and hot.

I typically use English (Hot House) cucumbers but sometimes I’ll use snacking cucumbers too, when I find them. I used to slice the cucumbers fairly thin (.5 mm) but lately, I found that I actually like the cucumber sliced a bit thicker (3 mm). I have a Kyocera ceramic mandalin that’s adjustable that makes quick work of slicing. If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting one.

So what do we eat with this? Kalbi, of course! Bulgogi, a must! Korean fried chicken wings, definitely! But we also have it with steak and even roast turkey and chicken. I like it with ramen, too.

Note: If the salad sits for a while, quite a bit of liquid will be released by the cucumber, and in my opinion, dilutes down the flavor. What I like to do is add half the sauce mixture with the onion and cucumber, chill for 30 minutes, drain the excess liquid and then add the remaining half of the sauce and then hold until ready to serve. But if you prefer a milder tasting salad, by all means add all of the sauce mixture as the recipe states.

Korean Cucumber Salad

  • 1 English cucumber, sliced thin
  • ½ sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper)
  • 1 Tablespoon gochujang (Korean chili paste, more or less to taste)
  • 1-2 Tablespoon honey (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar, separated
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

  1. In a colander, sprinkle salt over sliced cucumbers, mixing well. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, in a medium bowl, soak sliced onions in 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and water.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together minced garlic, gochugaru, gochujang, honey, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar and toasted sesame seeds. Set aside.
  4. Drain onions.
  5. Rinse cucumber thoroughly under water. Squeeze as much of the water out of the cucumbers as possible. Add cucumbers to the onions.
  6. Add sauce mixture to the onions and cucumbers, mix thoroughly. Serve chilled.



    • Hi Mike! I love the stuff so much that I’d pretty much would take any brand. But I do have a favorite although I didn’t know what the name of it was until I found this site that did a comparison of gochujang and has 3 that I’ve tried: http://oneforkonespoon.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/the-best-gochujang/

      I always just shopped for it by the label. I keep a picture of the label on my cell for reference.

      My favorite is Chung Jung Won Sunchang (#1 for Grace in the review). I love the flavor and can probably put it in just about anything.

      I’ve also tried Haechandle (#2) (http://www.mykomart.com/product_info.php?cPath=22_45&products_id=349) which was pretty good too. It’s probably #2 on my list too.

      I agree with the Wang brand (#5 in the review) about being on the sweeter side. It’s a brand that the Commissary carries and I’ve gotten it in a pinch. I don’t care for the MSG in it and I prefer to control the sweetness myself.

      Those are the only ones I’ve tried from their review. I think it really depends on personal taste. I buy the biggest size and just keep it in the fridge for when I need it. It’ll last almost forever.

      • I finally found Gochujang at an inntieatronal supermarket in Tokyo, so I’m crossing my fingers that there are more recipes to come before I work my way through your archives As an Australia (though one who is living in Japan) welcome! I hope you love living there. (And if you’re in Melbourne, I’ve got a few restaurant recommendations )

    • Hi Mike! I’m glad you guys enjoyed it. You can also change it up a bit and use sliced or cubed daikons with the sauce. No pre-salting needed. Another variation is just using rice vinegar and sugar with a bit of toasted sesame oil. That one is very similar to a Japanese version of cucumber or daikon salad. You can add some chopped green onions too if you like green onions.

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