Kimchi is often synonymous with cabbage, but really it’s any kind of salted and preserved vegetable (or fruit, or seafood) on the Korean table. The humble cucumber, the iconic vegetable of pickling in many minds, does a new trick in this pickle. Stuff it, cucumbers!
Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi Recipe (Oi-sobagi Kimchi)
Time: about 1½ hours
- 3 pounds English hothouse cucumbers or thin-skinned salad cucumbers on the slim side (not pickling cucumbers)
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and trimmed
- 2 green onions, roots and tough tops trimmed and outer leaves removed
- 9 cloves garlic
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- ¾ cup Korean chile flakes
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ ounce dried shrimp, optional
Wash the cucumbers and trim and discard the ends. Cut the cucumbers into fourteen 2-inch sections. Stand each piece upright on a work surface and cut an X shape halfway (1 inch) down into each piece, leaving the bottom inch intact. Stand the cukes up in a shallow dish and sprinkle the salt on their bottoms and tops and down into the X cut. Let them sit upright for 1 hour to leach out some of their juice.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Dice the carrot and the green onion. You can do this by hand, or by cutting them into chunks and pulsing about 20 times in a food processor. Transfer to a small mixing bowl.
In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, chile flakes, fish sauce, sugar, and dried shrimp. Puree into a paste, pausing to scrape down solids from the sides. This should take about a minute or so. Once smooth, fold the paste into the carrots and the onion.
Drain any liquid that has pooled in the bottom of the cucumber dish, and lightly pat the cucumbers dry with a paper towel or kitchen cloth. Stuff about 2 to 3 teaspoons of the filling into each cucumber, working to get as much into the center as possible, and mounding a dollop on top.
These pickles are ready to eat immediately, or they can be served at room temperature for about 12 hours. Unused portions should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 days.