Happy fall! I love this time of the year… The constant struggle of sweating in my boots or freezing for not wearing enough layers. It’s a confusing time for my wardrobe. But one thing is certain – cold weather in Korea means kimchi party aka Gimjang/Kimjang (김장).
Gimjang is the traditional process of preparing and preserving spicy Korean kimchi. I like to call it a “kimchi party”! Sounds more festive, don’t you agree? This happens for one whole month in the wintertime. The purpose of Gimjang is to make enough kimchi to preserve and to eat throughout the winter!
My mom makes kimchi from scratch and it’s the best. I’m naturally biased.
Making kimchi is a very long and tiring process. I personally steer away from it because it is hard! But I think homemade kimchi tastes better than store bought kimchi because this particular food takes a whole heap of love and desire to make this time-consuming dish (thanks mom!).
Despite my complaints and laziness, I tried mimicking my mom’s Korean cucumber kimchi. It’s pretty simple compared to the traditional Napa cabbage kimchi. You can definitely do it!
It’s a perfect side dish to add some kick to your meal! It’s a super healthy dish filled with ginger, garlic, and spicy red pepper to help with your digestion and immune system in time to fight off any cold symptoms.
- 6 Mini cucumbers (not the American cucumbers for pickling, but find small cucumbers at Hmart)
- 1 whole garlic
- 1 tablespoon of ginger
- 1 bundle of Korean chives (buchu)
- 1 tablespoon of Korean dried spicy red pepper
- ~1-3 tablespoon of sugar/green plum syrup (매실청 Maesil Chung)
- ~1-3 tablespoon of anchovy fish sauce (멸치액젓)*
- Pinch of sea salt
- Toasted sesame seeds and green onions for topping
*essential condiment for any Korean kimchi recipes
- Wash and slice mini cucumbers into bite size.
- Four steps in one (sorry about that). #1 Boil some water and #2 add hot water to the cucumbers. Let it sit in hot water for 2-3 minutes, #3 drain it, and #4 rinse with cold water. Set aside the cucumbers while we prepare the sauce!
- One washed bundle of Korean chives, 1 garlic, and 1 tablespoon of ginger.
- Add chopped Korean chives, garlic, and ginger with cucumbers.
- Left – plum syrup (it’s often used to substitute sugar). Right – anchovy fish sauce (멸치액젓) essential condiment for kimchi. Add to the cucumber along with Korean spicy red peppers. You can add more of whatever you want for taste! For example, I added about 1 tablespoon more of Korean spicy red peppers to make it more spicy. Or, you could add another pinch of salt if it’s bland or the anchovy sauce. I love cooking because it’s like painting on a blank canvas – you just need some direction but the freedom to mix it up a bit!
- Mix all the sauce and ingredients together with your hands (white see-through cooking gloves are useful here!).
It’s done! Make sure to refrigerate it to keep it fresh.
Let me know if you have any questions or problems with the recipe! I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top and some chopped green onions.