Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Saengchae)

cucsaladpBack to Korean cuisine! With its refreshing subtle flavours cucumber has endless serving or cooking possibilities. Thanks to it high water content and almost zero calorie count, it is also one of the best weight-controlling allies I know. This recently discovered Korean spicy salad is one more fantastic dish I am proudly adding to my collection of cucumber recipes. 

I found this salad in Hi Soo Shin Heppinstall’s Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen, one of the biggest gems in my culinary library (Stir-Fried Pork Loin, Mung Bean Sprouts Salad or Kimchi Soup are other amazing dishes realised thanks to the same fascinating source). I have seen several Korean cucumber salads on the web, but this one has particularly attracted my attention, first because of the paper-thin cucumber slicing and, most of all, with the presence of walnuts, regularly used in Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall’s dishes. Having used walnuts in some other Korean dishes (such as Cold Bibimbap), I think that apart from the crunchiness, their slight astringency adds an invaluable touch to the typically Korean hot and sweet flavours’ combination. Even though the author suggests almonds as a replacement for walnuts, I would not advise it (unless you hate walnuts, of course).

If you look for other cucumber serving ideas, you might like these:

Cucumber Stir-Fried with Chicken

Cucumber Stir-Fried with Chicken

Easy Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Kimchi)

Easy Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Kimchi)

Cucumber Fried with Perilla (Shiso)

Cucumber Fried with Perilla (Shiso)

Pickled Dill Cucumber

Pickled Dill Cucumber

Moomins' Pickled Cucumber Salad

Moomins’ Pickled Cucumber Salad

Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Jap. Cucumber with Soy Sauce and Ginger)

Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Jap. Cucumber with Soy Sauce and Ginger)

Feta, Apple and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt

Feta, Apple and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt

TIP: This salad can be served straight away, but it is at its best the following day (the flavours develop and the cucumber becomes slightly pickled), so it’s best to prepare it in advance.

Special equipment: a mandolin is very handy to obtain paper-thin slices

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 big long cucumber (or the equivalent in shorter cucumbers, weighing about 500 g/about 1 lb)

1 teaspoon salt

Seasoning:

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon rice wine (I have used sake)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 tablespoons of chopped white and light green parts of green onion

2 walnut kernels, finely chopped

1 heaped teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 small clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Korean chilli powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon finely chopped Korean parsley (I have used shiso/perilla leaves which have nothing in common, but they pair well with cucumber)

(salt)

(chilli threads for decoration)

If you use a big long cucumber, cut it horizontally in two and then slice thinly with a mandolin (you should obtain paper-thin transparent slices).
If you have short cucumbers, don’t slice them horizontally, but simply slice whole.

Put the cucumber slices in a bowl, sprinkle some salt and mix well with your hands.

Leave them for 15 minutes.

Wrap the sliced cucumber(s) into paper towels and squeeze out as much water as you can.

Put the cucumber back to the bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.

The salad can be served at once, but it’s best chilled (the author suggests chilling it overnight).