One of the greatest joys of summer is the abundance of fresh vegetables. Among them are locally grown Korean cucumbers that are bountiful in Korean markets here in Northern Virginia. This year, I adopted a few small plants from my father, who is an avid gardener, to grow them in containers on my balcony. Korean cucumbers are light in color, slender, and bumpy with thin skin. They are less seedy, very crispy and tasty. I might be a little biased, but I think they are the best of all cucumber varieties. Using a cucumber I picked from my container garden, I made this very simple but popular Korean side dish called oi muchim (oi means cucumber, and muchim means mixed with seasonings). I like to lightly salt the cucumber slices first and let them stand for a while to draw out water. This process gives it an extra crunch. This spicy, slightly sweet and tangy cucumber dish will be an excellent complement to any of your main dishes.
1 Korean cucumber or 2 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru) – use less if desired
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Thinly slice the cucumber (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick). Toss gently with salt and set aside for 15 -20 minutes. Drain excess liquid. (Avoid squeezing them because they will bruise.) Mix well with all remaining ingredients.