Cucumber kimchi is delicious right from the start, even before adding the spice blend – overnight salted cucumber is so tasty! Then, you mix in the spices to create a fresh and spicy kimchi salad. If you plan to eat this kimchi fairly quickly, it may be a good idea to replace the yellow onions with daikon, as the onion flavor can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning. This is very similar to making zucchini kimchi, and it’s absolutely fine to combine squash and cucumber. If you’re making it in jars at home, you can divide everything by 10.
Here’s how to make it:
10 kg pickling cucumbers or other cucumbers with thin skin. Cut lengthwise but not all the way through. If you plan to jar them later, it may be easier to chop them into large pieces from the beginning. Then, layer them with salt – don’t be shy, it should be about 7% of the weight (700g). Let it sit for a few hours with a weight on top (a bowl with water on a plate works well). Rinse the cucumbers twice and taste – they should taste quite salty but not overwhelming. If they still taste barely salty, you can add a little extra salt to the spice blend.
Rinse the cucumber twice and try – it should taste salty but not overpoweringly. If they are still barely salty add a bit more to the paste.
Other ingredients: 1 medium-sized daikon (can be replaced with kohlrabi, radish, or turnips). Cut into fine sticks or julienne.
A large bunch of chives or leek, chopped.
Ingredients for the spice blend:
500g fresh ginger
1kg onion or 1kg daikon
100g dried chili – ground (more or less depending on the chili’s strength and your preference)
70g ground paprika
1 daikon (can be replaced with kohlrabi, radish, or turnips)
2 tbsp salt
Mix in a few tablespoons of dried zucchini flour if you have it.
Here’s how to make it:
Blend the spice blend ingredients into a paste in a food processor or mortar, adding a little water if it feels dry. Fill the cucumber slits with the paste and massage a little bit of paste onto each cucumber, then pack them into the container. If you’re using the chopped variation, mix all the ingredients, fill the container, and put on the lid. Let it sit at room temperature for 1-3 days, then move it to a cool place like a refrigerator or cellar. It’s best to consume it within three months. It’s perfectly fine to combine squash and cucumber in this recipe. Cucumber kimchi is delicious from day one, so try it at different stages to find your favorite variation!
There are more exceptions than rules when it comes to lacto-fermentation. Generally, the rule of thumb is to cover the vegetables with liquid, but in this recipe, it’s not crucial, especially if you plan to eat it fairly fresh within a few weeks. I’m not sure if it’s the pre-salting, the ginger, or the combination of all the protective spices, but there’s something magical about kimchi and its ability to resist mold.