On the Table with Hazel: Cucumber Muchim

I love summer. Not because it gets hot and you can go to the beach and all that (although that does have its perks). I love summer because all the fruit and veges I love are cheap and fresh! Eggplants for 2 dollars? Cucumbers for less? SAY LESS! Honestly, the long summer evenings mean more time to cook and eat the delicious summer produce. So, here’s one of my summer classics: it’s my own version of “오이무침” (pronounced “oh – ee mu-chim”), or a lazy Korean cucumber salad.

If I was being true to the muchim, I would be adding Korean chili flakes. But those are expensive, and gochujang does the job just as well. Muchim also isn’t really a salad. According to Google, it means “tossed cucumber”. Technically, that’s right. But really, it’s supposed to be mixed by the naked hand, as we believe that your hands add extra flavour (yeah, writing that out feels weird) to the dish. I have eczema on my hands so I will be doing the “tossing” with my spoon, but you are more than welcome to get all up in it with your mitts! I like to eat this as a side dish with some rice but the other day I plated this guy up with some avo toast and that was delicious as well. This is supposed to be side dish and it really does complement anything savoury you eat! Hey, maybe you can impress your whānau by bringing it to a beach barbecue — the choices are endless! Cucumber muchim is super fresh and really gets your appetite going on those hot summer nights. It’s tangy and sweet with a slight kick from the gochujang and garlic, and it really complements the crunchy texture of cucumber. So here we go, cucumber muchim for your summer wine and dine!


Ingredients

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp of coarse salt (must be coarse! Not table salt as that would be too salty)
  • 3 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp of gochujang (you can add more if you like it spicier)
  • 1 tbsp of sweetener of your choice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp of soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of sesame oil

 

Instructions

  1. Wash your cucumbers well. There is no need to peel the cucumber as the texture is better when unpeeled. Cut the cucumbers in half, then chop them into a half-moon shape about 1cm thick.
  2. Once that’s done, dump the cucumbers into a bowl and sprinkle the salt over the chopped
    cucumbers then mix it well. Let this sit for 30 minutes. This process will help drain the excess
    moisture from the cucumbers which makes it last longer in the fridge. It also improves the
    texture of the cucumber
  3. After the 30 minutes, rinse the cucumbers under cold running water. Do it until the cucumbers taste milder and less salty. Give them a gentle squeeze to drain the excess water then let them drip on a sieve while you prepare the sauce. This step is crucial! Don’t skip it!
  4. Mix the minced garlic and vinegar together — I like to do this as it softens the flavour of
    the garlic. Then, throw in the rest of the sauce ingredients and mix them well. Taste it to see whether you would like it spicier or sweeter or saltier, but remember: the flavour will change again when you incorporate the cucumbers.
  5. Finally, “toss” the chopped, drained cucumbers into the gochujang sauce! Taste again to see if it’s seasoned to your taste. Remember, you can always add more of the flavouring ingredients as you go!

Ta-da, you’re done! It keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge, but it will get “juicier” as the cucumber releases its water over time. But never fear, the juices make a great spicy salad dressing!

About the author
Hazel Oh