Korean Cucumber Kimchi: spicy quick pickles & probiotics for a healthy gut!

Oi Sobagi (cucumber kimchi) is a crunchy, refreshing kimchi that is typically eaten in Korea along with a bowl of rice, miso soup, and a variety of other vegetable side dishes. This is a quick pickle that differs from the popular aged kimchi that most Koreans can't live without. Strangely, I've never been a fan of my motherland's national dish (I've actually NEVER met any other Korean blooded soul who doesn't like aged kimchi), but I do love this cucumber one, so every time my mother comes to visit, I ask her to make it for me. But, since it's truly simple to make, I'm giving you my Korean mother's recipe!

I love the mild(er) kimchi flavor of these cucumbers, but I think it's the supreme crunch that I really adore. Once salt draws out some of the water from the cucumbers and the spices are massaged in, it can be eaten straight away, but if you let the cucumbers ferment for a day or two, you'll be getting a bit of some gut-loving and important good bacteria along with your crunch! The microbiome in our gut is often called the "forgotten organ," and for the last several years, I've been fascinated with the growing research on the paramount importance of the 100 trillion or so microorganisms that live in our gut, mouth, skin, and other mucosal surfaces of our bodies. The first book I read on this subject is called The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine by Dr. Michael Gershon, but since its publication in 1999, volumes of other research have been published. I also just attended the Microbiome Medicine Summit online, which had dozens of experts, including Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, so I'm impressed more than ever about the role the human microbiome in our overall health.

To ensure I'm keeping my good bacteria in strong supply, I take a prescription probiotic, drink my Healthibella Green Reset Smoothie (with fermented greens and probiotics; recipe is part of the Healthibella 3 Day Reboot program which is free when you sign up for the newsletter!), and try to eat a little probiotic rich food daily: miso, yogurt, kefir, preserved lemons (my recipe here), tempeh, and this quick kimchi.

I hope you enjoy! To your health and happiness! xx, Juli

Ingredients

  • 4 - 5 small organic cucumbers such as the kind that are used to make dill pickles, washed
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons of Himalayan or sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Korean crushed red pepper flakes (gochukaru)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (or rice vinegar for vegan option)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Method:

  1. Quarter the cucumbers lengthwise, leaving the bottom 2 -3 cm intact.
  2. Put them in a large bowl, add about one tablespoon of sea or Himalayan salt, rub the salt inside and out and toss well.
  3. Allow salted pickles to sit at least for a couple of hours in room temperature. The salt helps draw moisture out of the cucumbers, which creates a natural brine.
  4. Combine all of the other ingredients in a bowl and blend this mixture into the cucumbers. Massage the spices in well and pack the spices into the cucumber. (You may want to wear protective gloves for this as the chili pepper flakes can sting.)
  5. Cut the cucumber into small chunks or keep them whole and place them into sterilized lidded glass jars or containers.
  6. Add a bit of the chili brine into the jars.
  7. The kimchi can be enjoyed immediately for a fresh raw side dish or if you want it to ferment a little, leave the closed container of cucumber kimchi in room temperature for 24 to 48 hours to give it a chance to ferment.
  8. After 24 to 48 hours, transfer the closed container to your refrigerator.
  9. This kimchi will keep for a few days, but will lose a little of its crunch each day.