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Korean cucumbers are medium to large in size, averaging forty-five centimeters in length and five centimeters in diameter, and are long, cylindrical, and slender in shape. The thin skin is firm with small spines, and depending on the variety, the skin can be light green, green-white, or dark green with patches, striations, and mottling. The flesh is moist, crisp, and pale green to white with small, soft, edible cream-colored seeds scattered throughout the center. When raw, Korean cucumbers are crunchy, aqueous, and sweet without the bitterness associated with other varieties of cucumber.
Korean cucumbers are available year-round, with peak season in the summer.
Korean cucumbers, botanically classified as Cucumis sativus, are annual Asian hybrids that are members of the Cucurbitaceae family. There are several hybrid varieties of Korean cucumbers including Summer Delight, Summer Express, White Sun, and Silver Green, and each variety will vary slightly in size, color, and texture. Korean cucumbers are generally thinner and longer than other cucumber varieties and are typically used fresh to make pickles, side dishes, and salads.
Korean cucumbers contain iron, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Korean cucumbers are best suited for raw preparations as they provide a pleasant crunch when fresh. They do not need to be peeled unless the spines are very hard and the seeds can be consumed or discarded depending on preference. Korean cucumbers can be sliced and mixed with oils, vinegar, and sauces to create a fresh, crunchy side dish or cucumber salad. They are also commonly used in Korea to make kimchi, which is a fermented pickle dish. One popular cucumber kimchi dish known as Oi-sobagi, calls for cucumbers to be sliced open and stuffed with other vegetables like carrots, onions, mushrooms, and chives. Korean cucumbers pair well with other seasonings like sesame oil, fish sauce, pepper flakes, chili powder, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, radish, carrots, red bell pepper, spinach, broccoli, green onions, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and meats such as beef, chicken, and pork. They will keep up to a week when stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Vegetables, both fresh, cooked, or fermented, are a major part of the Korean daily diet. Cucumbers are widely enjoyed raw and fermented in dishes such as oi muchim. In Korean, oi means cucumber and muchim means mixed with seasonings, and this fresh cucumber salad incorporates vinegar, sugar, and sauces to create a spicy, tangy, and mildly sweet side dish. Korean cucumbers are also used in cooked applications in Korea. They can be diced and used with mushrooms or meat in steamed dumplings. They are also commonly salted and stir-fried to make a side dish known as oi-bokkeum, which allows the heat from cooking to bring out the cucumber’s sweetness.
Cucumbers are thought to have originated in Southeast Asia and have been in cultivation for around 3,000 years. Cucumbers then spread to China and have been used in Korea since the Goryeo dynasty, approximately 918 to 1392 CE. It is unclear exactly when Koreans began experimenting with creating cucumber hybrids, but there are many different varieties today that can be found at local farmers markets and specialty grocers in Korea, Asia, Europe, and select regions in the United States.
Recipes that include Korean Cucumbers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Beyond Kimchee||Cucumber Kimchi|
|Sweet and Savorhie||Spicy Cucumber Salad|
|Kimchimari||Korean Cucumber Salad|
|Beyond Kimchee||Korean Cold Seaweed Soup with Cucumber|