Smacked Cucumber ‘Quick Kimchi’
This is not a traditional kimchi, but it approximates the flavor profile, bypassing a lengthier fermentation and instead relying on vinegar. Considered a muchim in Korean — which can refer to any number of “seasoned” or “dressed” salads or other preparations — this dish is best eaten right away, or at least within 24 hours, while cucumber’s characteristic crunch is still intact. The smacking step creates craggy edges that help better absorb the spicy, funky dressing, so don’t skip it. If you can, place a bowl under the colander in Step 1 to catch the cucumber brine; it tastes fabulous in a martini. Enjoy this as a side salad alongside any grilled main dish, especially steak, or any type of barbecue. For a vegetarian option, you can swap out the fish sauce for soy sauce.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 1pound Persian cucumbers (about 5 to 7), cut into 1-inch pieces on the bias
- 1teaspoon kosher salt
- 2tablespoons white distilled vinegar
- ½teaspoon finely grated garlic
- 1tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1tablespoon gochugaru
- 2teaspoons fish sauce
- 1teaspoon granulated sugar
- Coarsely chopped chives, thinly sliced scallions, or cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
Step 1On a large cutting board, position your chef’s knife on its side and press the heel of the blade to crush each cucumber piece until it cracks in the center, splits in half or splinters completely into pieces. (The variety in textures is a delight.) In a medium bowl, toss the cucumbers with the salt, transfer to a colander, and let sit in the sink to drain, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in the same bowl, add the vinegar and garlic and set aside.
Step 2After 30 minutes, add the sesame oil, gochugaru, fish sauce and sugar to the bowl with the vinegar and garlic, and whisk to combine. Use a paper or cloth kitchen towel to pat the cucumbers dry, then add the cucumbers to the dressing and toss until well coated.
Step 3Garnish with the optional herbs before serving. This is best eaten right away, but can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.