5 Minute Recipes/ Asian Recipes/ Korean/ Recipes/ Salad

Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad – Oi Muchim

23/11/2023

Welcome to your new favourite salad! Korean spicy cucumber salad is the side dish you want at the table – it’s fast, easy and has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. YUM!

A black pair of chopsticks holds a piece of cucumber.

Why We Love This

This spicy Korean cucumber salad recipe is an easy and deliciously quick 5 minute “cheat pickle” – it’s not a true pickle, but we are drawing out the liquid to make it nice and crunchy.

It’s light and super refreshing with the perfect balance of sweet and savoury flavour.

Serve up this spicy banchan side dish alongside your favourite mains, or as a summery salad for BBQs and family gatherings. You can even enjoy it as a quick and healthy snack all on its own. 

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RelatedSmashed Cucumber Salad / Seasoned Spinach

A white bowl with cucumber salad, topped with chopsticks.

What is Oi Muchim?

Oi muchim (오이무침) translates to ‘mixed’ or ‘seasoned’ cucumbers. It consists of thick slices of salted cucumber mixed with common Korean seasonings such as fermented hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil.

This salad is usually served as a banchan (side dish) to complement a main meal or Korean BBQ spread, along with a few other types of banchan to round out the meal.

What You’ll Need

  • Cucumber – You can make this with one large continental/English cucumber, or around 2 small Korean cucumbers, pickling cucumbers or Lebanese cucumbers depending on what’s readily available in your area.
  • Onion – We used a quarter of a red onion, sub with white onion or one small shallot. No need to peel the cucumbers first. Just cut them into thick round or diagonal slices (more traditional) or lengthwise into wedges or sticks. 
  • Salt – This draws out the excess moisture from the cucumber slices, helping them become extra crunchy. Draining this liquid away helps keep the salad refreshing without being too watery. 
  • Gochujang / Korean Hot Pepper Paste – One of the key flavours in Korean cuisine. While it is spicy, it has more of a well-rounded, sweet tomato flavour rather than just pure chilli heat. (Note: You can buy an extra hot version if you want!). It’s available at Asian grocery stores, well stocked supermarkets in the international aisle, or online. If you can’t source it, you can make a paste out of regular red chilli flakes mixed with sugar and a dash of soy. Use 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes for every tablespoon of gochujang required. 
  • Gochugaru / Korean Red Pepper Flakes – May also be labelled as Korean hot pepper powder. Most brands have clear packaging so you can see the product inside (which is important). Ideally you should buy the flakes, NOT the powdered version. Look for it at Asian supermarkets or online. Sub with half the listed amount of cayenne pepper or regular chilli powder.
  • Other Seasonings – You’ll also need garlic, soy sauce, vinegar (your fave kind, we tend to use rice vinegar or white vinegar), sugar, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
Ingredients laid out ready to make oi muchim.

How to Make Oi Muchim

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

  1. Wash then slice cucumber on a diagonal and add to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and roughly mix together. Leave to draw out the water (around 5 minutes while you prep the dressing).
  2. In a large bowl add the gochujanggochugarugarlicsugarsoy saucevinegarsesame oil and sesame seeds. Mix until combined.
  3. Slice onion into thin half moons, then squeeze and drain the cucumber and add both to the dressing bowl.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Cucumbers – No need to squeeze the cucumbers after salting. The longer you leave them, the more liquid will be extracted and the less watery the salad will be once served. If your cucumber variety has lots of seeds, it can be a good idea to scoop them out first if you prefer (we don’t!).
  • Spice Level – To amp up the heat, drain the excess liquid from the cucumbers after salting, before adding to the sauce. To tone it down a bit, keep the liquid in. It will mix with the seasonings and mellow it out a bit. 
  • Colour – You can leave out the soy sauce for a brighter red colour salad. 
  • Serve Cold – The spicy cucumber slices are extra refreshing straight from the fridge! 
  • Storage – Store leftovers in the fridge, they’re just as good the next day.

FAQs

Can I skip salting the cucumbers first?

Yes you can. The texture will be a bit different and the salad may become more watery over time than it would have, but it will still be delicious if enjoyed straight away.

Can I make oi muchim in advance?

This salad is really at its best soon after mixing, so we don’t recommend fully making it in advance. Instead, you can prep the cucumbers and mix the seasoning separately a few hours beforehand, storing in separate containers in the fridge until just before serving. Then mix, serve and enjoy!

What else can I serve with this spicy cucumber salad?

This is the perfect refreshing side salad for heavier mains like Korean army stew or gochujang jjigae. It’s great paired up with other banchan (such as sukju namul muchim / bean sprout salad) on top of a homemade bibimbap rice bowl.

Serve it as a side dish alongside bulgogi beef, dak bulgogi or teriyaki chicken. Or for a simple meal, serve up a small bowl alongside rice, noodles or miso soup.

Variations

  • Extra Veggies – Try adding sliced carrots into the salad, garnished with fresh spring onion / green onion on top. 
  • Sweeter Sauce – Skip the gochugaru (hot pepper flakes) and add 1 tbsp of plum syrup or mirin.
A bowl of Korean oi muchim.

Try these amazing recipes next:

  • Homemade Kimchi – Super easy (and so much cheaper) to make at home!
  • Kkakdugi – Delicious morsels of cubed radish kimchi.
  • Haemul Pajeon – Classic savoury Korean pancakes with seafood.
  • Gamja Jorim – Epic braised potatoes are sweet and savoury with a hint of spice!
  • Kongnamul Guk – Warm and soothing bean sprout soup.

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

A chopstick holds up a spicy piece of cucumber.

Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad – Oi Muchim

Welcome to your new favourite salad! Korean spicy cucumber salad is the side dish you want at the table – it’s fast, easy and has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. YUM!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 4 side serves
Calories: 60kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber large, around 200 g / 7 oz, sub 2 small Korean cucumbers
  • 1 tsp salt

For the dressing

For the salad

  • ¼ onion red or white onion, sub 1 small shallot, sliced thin

Instructions

For the cucumber

  • Wash then slice cucumber on a diagonal and add to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and roughly mix together. Leave to draw out the water (around 5 minutes while you prep the dressing).
    1 cucumber, 1 tsp salt

For the dressing

  • In a large bowl add the gochujang, gochugaru, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Mix until combined.
    1 tbsp Korean hot pepper paste / gochujang, ½ tbsp Korean hot pepper flakes / gochugaru, 2 tsp garlic, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, ½ tbsp vinegar, ½ tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp sesame seeds

For the salad

  • Slice onion into thin half moons, then squeeze and drain the cucumber and add both to the dressing bowl.
    ¼ onion
  • Toss everything together well and dish out into small side dish bowls, on top of a dish like chicken bibimbap or pop in the fridge in an airtight container.

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Cucumbers – No need to squeeze the cucumbers after salting. The longer you leave them, the more liquid will be extracted and the less watery the salad will be once served. If your cucumber variety has lots of seeds, it can be a good idea to scoop them out first.
  • Spice Level – To amp up the heat, drain the excess liquid from the cucumbers after salting, before adding to the sauce. To tone it down a bit, keep the liquid in. It will mix with the seasonings and mellow it out a bit. 
  • Colour – You can leave out the soy sauce for a brighter red colour salad. 
  • Serve Cold – The spicy cucumber slices are extra refreshing straight from the fridge! 
  • Storage – Store leftovers in the fridge, they’re just as good the next day.
  • Extra Veggies – Try adding sliced carrots into the salad, garnished with fresh spring onion / green onion on top. 
  • Sweeter Sauce – Skip the gochugaru (hot pepper flakes) and add 1 tbsp of plum syrup or mirin instead.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad – Oi Muchim
Amount per Serving
Calories
60
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
3
g
5
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.4
g
3
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Sodium
 
852
mg
37
%
Potassium
 
137
mg
4
%
Carbohydrates
 
8
g
3
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
5
g
6
%
Protein
 
2
g
4
%
Vitamin A
 
341
IU
7
%
Vitamin C
 
3
mg
4
%
Calcium
 
36
mg
4
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks

Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad - Oi Muchim

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