Oi Sobagi (Cucumber Kimchi)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I've been harvesting about 6 pounds of cucumber every week.  That has lead to four different pickle trials, cucumber salads, stir fried cucumber, Tzatziki, and lots of Oi Sobagi.  This recipe can be eaten fresh, but it is perfect lightly fermented.  The cucumber flavor stands out here and balances the kimchi flavors beautifully.

There are some Korean ingredients here that can mostly be replaced with more common ingredients or can be bought in most Asian grocery stores.  The irreplaceable ingredient is Gochugaru, or Korean Red Pepper Flakes.  Gochugaru is somewhat warm (although used in great quantity), has a great smoky, sweet pepper flavor and gives kimchi its vibrant red color.  If you have any interest in cooking Korean, a bag is well worth the purchase.  Doeanjang is Korean soybean paste and can be replace with miso.  Daikon is a suitable replacement for the Korean Radish, as is carrot.  Carrots would be great here, but my wife isn't a fan.

Oi Sobagi

2 lbs pickling cucumbers
6 cups water
1/2 cup sea salt

Kimchi Paste:
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 cup chives, cut in in 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup korean radish, daikon or carrot, cut into 2 inch matchsticks
4 green onions, halved and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 sheets nori
1/3 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 tbs doenjang or miso
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sugar
1 dried shiitake mushroom soaked in 1/4 cup boiling water

If the cucumbers are fresh, trim a 1/16th inch off of the blossom end of each cucumber.  Stand each cucumber lengthwise and slice it in half, leaving the bottom half inch unsliced.  Turn the cucumber and slice the halves, leaving the bottom half inch unsliced.  The result should look like this.  Bring the water and salt to a boil and pour over the cucumbers.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

 Meanwhile, make the kimchi paste.  Cut the vegetables into thin matchsticks, about 2 inches long.   Slice the green onions into halves or quarters, depending on their size, including the tops.  For the nori, moisten with water and fold a couple of times so you can make approximately 1/4" x 2" slices.  Separate the slices as best you can. Combine all the kimchi paste ingredients and mix with your hand... you may want to use a latex glove until well combined.  Add the soaking water from the shiitake and discard the mushroom.  You may also just use water.

After 30 minutes, drain the cucumbers and rinse them in cold water a couple of times.  Carefully spread the quarters of each cucumber and coat with paste and vegetables.  Rub the outside of the cucumber as well.  Set in a bowl or casserole.  If there is any paste leftover, pour over the top.

If you're serving these fresh, you're done.  Refrigerate them now.  Otherwise, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 24 hours to ferment.  They will develop a slight zing from the fermentation.  Some liquid will wick from the cucumbers that you can swish over the batch before serving.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

6 servings:  67 cal (0g fat, 14g carbs, 5g protein)

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