Oi Sobagi  - Cucumber Kimchi

Oi Sobagi

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 5 hr 35 min (includes brining, draining and fermenting time)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: about 6 to 7 cups
This spicy cucumber kimchi is a perfect summer side dish. (Oi means cucumber and sobagi indicates it’s been cut in a cross shape and stuffed with a seasoned mixture.) It is often made with Korean cucumbers, which have very thin skins and few seeds, but this recipe uses Kirby cucumbers. They are more accessible in the U.S. and hold up just as well during the fermentation process, staying firm and crisp. Unlike traditional kimchi made with cabage, cucumber kimchi shouldn’t be kept more than 7 days at most, and it is best eaten within 2 to 3 days.



  1. Whisk together the sea salt and 5 cups lukewarm water in a large bowl until most of the salt is dissolved, then set the brine aside.
  2. Cut off a small piece from both ends of the cucumbers, then halve each cucumber crosswise. Cut each half lengthwise from the wider end until you reach 1/2 inch from the thinner end. (Do not cut all the way through the cucumber.) Turn the cucumber 90 degrees and repeat the process. What you have now is 4 equal “spears” of the cucumber held together at the thinner end.  
  3. Add the cucumbers to the brine and let soak until the spears can bend slightly without breaking, 3 to 4 hours. Drain the cucumbers cut-side down in a colander for 1 hour. 
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together rice flour, 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small pot. Heat over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. (The mixture will start bubbling at about 2 minutes.) It is ready when you tilt the pot and streaks/lines in the mixture formed from the whisk on bottom of the pot don’t fill in. Set the paste aside until ready to use.  
  5. Combine the carrots, chives, onions, gochugaru, fish sauce, garlic, chili flakes, salted shrimp, the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and reserved paste in a medium bowl.  
  6. Working with one cucumber at a time, hold the spears open with one hand and use your other hand to stuff the vegetable mixture between the spears and slather it all over. (Distribute the mixture evenly among the cucumbers.) Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and let sit at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours so the flavors develop more. I think the kimchi tastes best cold, so also like to refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Cook’s Note

The firmness and flavor of kimchi is depends on the type of salt you use. For the best results, it’s worth buying Korean coarse sea salt (cheonilyeom). It is minimally processed using one of the older methods of salt production, which entails long and slow drying in the sun to remove the bitterness sometimes found in other salts. Korean coarse sea salt has a bit of a sweet aftertaste. The grain size is much larger, too. Different salts also have different sodium levels and all of that can affect the finished kimchi if you substitute another salt.