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Traditional kimchee (Korean fermented cabbage pickle) is one of those family recipes that vary from home to home--no two are alike. There are good commercial brands available but the most flavorful and pungent versions are going to be had from someone's home kitchen. My version, here, offers a less pungent version that mimics the flavor of conventional kimchee with plenty of umami; a dose of savory and sweet and spicy with a bit more crunch. Delicious as a side salad or condiment with barbecued meats, especially Korean Gal-Bi (check my page here for a recipe) or meat-filled lettuce cups. It also makes an tasty and surprising sandwich topping with roast pork or turkey or grilled tuna steaks. Thinner-skinned cucumbers work better, so feel free to substitute pickling cukes or mini (Persian) cukes. For a spicier version, increase the jalapeno or crushed red pepper. I have also added and substituted a variety of vegetables depending the mood and what was ticking away in the fridge.
- 1 English cucumber
- 1⁄4 medium white onion, sliced very thin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 small carrot, peel and shred fine
- 1⁄4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, minced, discard seeds for less heat
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Trim and halve cucumber lengthwise and slice into thin half-rounds. If substituting a regular cucumber, peel and scrape out seeds with a teaspoon. Toss cucumber and onion together with salt; let sit for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar and honey; slowly whisk in sesame oil, stir in remaining ingredients and set aside.
- Rinse cucumber and onion and drain well, pressing out excess water as needed. Stir into dressing with carrot. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving to allow flavors to come together.