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Spicy Korean Cucumber Pickles


Spicy Korean Cucumber Pickles

Spicy Korean Cucumber Pickles

Photo © Molly Watson
These Spicy Korean Cucumber Pickles are made by tossing crunchy cucumbers with a bit of salt, letting them sit a bit to extract a bunch of water out of them, and then being tossed with a few seasonings. They're ready within an hour or two if you want them that quickly, but keep for up to a week covered and chilled (taste their spiciness grow!). They're traditionally served as a ban chan, or appetizer with an array of other similar little dishes at Korean meals. I find they work quite nicely in a sandwich, alongside grilled meats, or with scrambled eggs. Use them as you like!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Waiting Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 1 to 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 lb. kirby cucumbers or hothouse or English cucumber
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Chop kirby cucumbers into 1/2-inch pieces. If using hothouse or English cucumbers, halve them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds before cutting the halves in half lengthwise and then cutting into about 1/2-inch pieces. (Not sure which cucumber is which? Check out this Guide to Cucumber Varieties.)
  2. Set the chopped cucumbers in a colander set over a large bowl. Sprinkle the cucumbers with the salt and toss them gently to combine. Let the cucumbers sit for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. The salt will draw water out of the cucumbers. After they've sit, squeeze them firmly to get even more water out of them. Lay them on a clean kitchen towel or rolls of paper towels and roll up tightly to squeeze even more water out of the cucumbers.
  4. Put the cucumbers in a medium bowl, add the garlic, if you're using it, pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Toss everything to combine thoroughly. Add the sesame seeds, if you want to use them, and toss to combine them too.
  5. Cover and chill the pickles for 30 to 60 minutes and up to a week.

If you like unusual pickles, you might also like these Zuni-Style Zucchini Pickles.

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