Korean Cucumber Salad

Korean cuisine is renowned for its vibrant flavors and intricate balance between spicy, tangy, and savory elements. One dish that ties that all together perfectly is Korean cucumber salad, also known as “Oi Muchim.” This refreshing side dish is a staple in Korean households and is cherished for its simplicity and the way its ingredients work together so cohesively.

Korean Cucumber Salad
Korean cucumber salad. We cut the cucumbers into spears, but your choice on the chop.

At the heart of this salad are the cucumbers, specifically English cucumbers, known for their thin skin and minimal seeds. In our recipe, the cucumbers are sliced into 3-inch spears (but feel free to chop to any shape you prefer). The fresh, crisp bite of the cucumber is a refreshing counterpoint to the intensity of the ingredients that make up the spicy sauce.

And it’s all about that sauce: The dressing for the Korean cucumber salad is where the magic happens. Each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating a well-rounded flavor profile. Garlic and ginger provide aromatic and pungent notes. Those red pepper flakes fire up the sauce and give it texture. The soy sauce and sesame oil give an umami undertone and a touch of nuttiness to the flavor. White vinegar provides some acidity to that helps balance the heat. And, finally, the sugar and kosher salt give the oh-so-tasty sweet and salty twists to the taste.

It’s so tasty, and it makes for one exceptionally versatile appetizer or side. It can be served as a side dish (banchan) alongside a variety of Korean main courses, such as Korean BBQ or bibimbap. Its refreshing qualities also make it a great palate cleanser between richer, heavier dishes. And it’s a fantastic addition to really any meal, providing a burst of flavor and a satisfying crunch. For instance, we love it as a healthier side to burgers rather than french fries.

See it being made (video slideshow):

Like this recipe? You’ll love these too:

  • Roasted Bo Ssam: This Korean-inspired slow-cooked pork is such a good party meal. And this cucumber salad is an excellent match with it.
  • Homemade Gochujang: Some Oi Muchim recipes use gochujang instead of red pepper flakes. This recipe simplifies the traditional recipe (no fermentation), so it’s not quite full-flavored but it’s quicker to make.
  • Old Bay Pickles: Another one of our favorite ways to use up those extra cucumbers. Old Bay gives them a tasty Chesapeake blue crab taste.

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Korean Cucumber Salad

Korean Cucumber Salad

A simple side with incredible flavor depth
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 156 kcal


  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger minced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds


  • Slice the cucumbers into 3-inch spears.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce (all other ingredients), then pour over the cucumber and gently toss to combine.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.


If spears aren’t your preferred shape, feel free to roughly chop the cucumber into your preferred size. 


Calories: 156kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 1124mgPotassium: 529mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 908IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 2mg
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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 5, 2024 to include new content.
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
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5 stars