From what I have learned, “banchan” is the term that refers to small side-dishes served along with cooked rice in Korean cuisine. Kimchi is a type of banchan, and so is this style of spicy cucumber salad, or “Oi Muchim” (don’t quote me on that name though because I’m not entirely sure how exactly it should be translated.)
The backstory here is that when I was first introduced to Korean food over a decade ago, (shout-out to Chun’s Bar-B-Q House in Kaneohe, HI – though *now closed* I consider you a lucky one if you ever tried Mr. Chun’s Kalbi) it truly captured my palate. Aside from the mouth-watering barbecued meat of Korean cuisine–the neverending choices of pickled side dishes are a match made in heaven for someone with a palate like mine!
A few years ago in Texas, I had found a super authentic Korean restaurant and they served us this spicy cucumber dish that I instantly became obsessed with. When I sat down to write this article, I actually had to search through my drafts to see if I had already started writing about this dish – because that’s how serious I have been about it from the very beginning.
So, last weekend when I was making this braised pork belly recipe, I had planned on picking up some spicy cucumber salad from a local asian restaurant here in Hawaii. However, when I arrived there, they weren’t open yet. Instead, I went to the grocery store and scouted some chili oils and other things to create the dish that my mouth was salivating for and that I felt would go with the pork belly SO perfectly…
What turned out, hands down, was one of my best creations in a very long time:
- 3 half-peeled cucumbers
- 6 tbsp. oil (sesame or olive oil)
- 1.5 tbsp fish sauce* (another brand here*)
- 1 lime’s juice
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1/2 tbsp. sea salt*
- 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 1/2 tbsp. coconut sugar*
- 1 tbsp. furikake seasoning*
- 2 tbsp. gochujang (hot chili paste*)
- 2 tbsp. chili oil with fried garlic mix*
- Wash cucumbers, then use a vegetable peeler to shave three wide strips of the peels off of the cucumbers, leaving three stretches of peel still on (see photo below) and then slice cucumbers in to about a quarter of an inch pieces.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the other ingredients listed, mix well so everything is evenly dispersed.
3. Start to add in the cucumber slices and evenly coat/saturate until completely incorporated.
4. Enjoy immediately, store remainder in a glass container in the refrigerator.
p.s. This pairs so well with my braised pork belly (pictured above).