Oi Sobaegi Kimchi, Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi
One of the most popular kimchi, it is attractive, refreshingly flavorful and nutritious. In the past it was available only for a limited time in the summer. Today we can find fresh cucumbers year round. It is made only in small portions because oi sobaegi does not stay fresh for long. This kimchi is simple to make and yet so versatile. Seedless, crunchy cucumbers with soft skins are ideal for this recipe.
Makes 8 stuffed oi sobaegi
1 hour to prepare and 2 days to mature
2 pounds Korean or other seedless, soft skinned and blemish free cucumbers
11/2 tablespoon sea salt or additional if needed
4 ounces mu (Korean radishes), cut into 1½-inch matchsticks
1 Korean pear, cut into 1 ½-inch matchsticks
6 ounces Korean chives, snipped into 1½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons gochu garu
1 clove garlic, skinned and grated
1 tablespoon saeu jeot (salted shrimps)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
4 walnut halves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce fresh ginger, skinned and grated
1 tablespoon sil goch‘u cut into 1-inch pieces
Note: Chives tend to let off a grassy smell when cut roughly. Use a sharp knife to prevent this. For that reason, Korean cooks usually snips chives with sharp kitchen scissors.
Vegetarian recipe: To make this kimchi strictly vegetarian, replace salted shrimp with ½ tablespoon fine sea salt.
Wash the cucumbers and pat dry. Trim the ends off the cucumbers and cut into 2-inch pieces. On a cutting board, place all cucumber pieces upright. With a sharp knife, slice each piece in crisscross fashion vertically down toward the bottom. Careful not to cut all the way to the bottom, leaving the bottom held together. In a large bowl, arrange the cucumbers upright in one layer, sliced sides up. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the cucumbers and let stand for about 30 minutes or until slightly wilted. Pat dry with paper towel. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine all the ingredients for the stuffing, reserving some sil goch‘u for garnish, and toss well. Stuff the mixture into each cucumber slit. In a 3-quart wide mouthed jar with a screw-top, place the cucumbers upright, stuffed sides up in a layer. Add a little water to the bowl to mix with the remaining bits and pieces of the stuffing, and sprinkle over cucumbers.
Close the lid tight and double wrap in plastic bags. It can eaten immediately or let mature at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Transfer to the refrigerator. The kimchi will stay fresh for 1 week at least.
Serve in small individual dishes, placing 2 cucumbers in each. Garnish with reserved sil goch‘u.
Vegetarian recipe: Simply omit salted shrimp and replace with ½ tablespoon fine sea salt.