Cabbage Kimchi Too Slow? Make This Cucumber Kimchi Recipe In No Time

We usually come across kimchi as the Korean fermented cabbage condiment with a garlicky and spicy pungency, and lingering fizz - taking anything from 24 hours up to 3 days in a refrigerator to mature. However 'quick kimchi' is becoming more popular in Korea - the vegetable is still preserved brine, but the kimchi doesn't have chance to ferment. Hot chilli, pungent garlic and ginger, salt, a little sweetness, but no fizz.

There are many debates between the generations as to how old kimchi should be when served - with families keeping jars of daikon radish and napa cabbage for months for older family members, yet fresh batches can be made every few days for younger family members. This recent appetite for sweeter kimchis without the sour tang of more aged varieties has increased the popularity of quick kimchi recipes - perfect for when you decide to cook a Korean meal, but there's no kimchi in the cupboard.

Start the quick kimchi recipe around 1 hour before serving. Brine the cucumber whilst you prepare the rest of the meal. Cucumber kimchi is best served 3-4 hours after making. It will keep for a couple of days in the fridge - though the cucumber will soften and the sauce become more watery.

Ingredients  Serves: 4

  • 950ml water
  • 50g fine salt for the brine
  • 1 medium cucumber (approx 300g), ends sliced off and cut into 4 even rounds
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, finely minced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp chives, cut into 1 cm lengths
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru, Korean red pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp anchovy sauce (exclude if vegetarian, and add an extra 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp water)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar


  1. Stir together salt and water until dissolved to make a 5% salt brine.
  2. Stand each portion of cucumber on its end, and slice down in half lengthways stopping 1cm before the bottom. Repeat with the knife rotated by 90 degrees - so the cucumber pieces are nearly cut into quarters but still hold together at the base. Do the same for the remaining three pieces. Set aside to soak in the salt water mixture for 20 minutes until softened.
  3. In a separate bowl stir together the garlic, ginger, spring onions, chives, red pepper powder, anchovy sauce and caster sugar.
  4. Drain the cucumber and rinse. Stuff the sauce into the cucumber pieces, making sure all surfaces are covered with the sauce. Place in a plastic bag, expelling the air and set aside for at least 10 to 30 minutes before serving - though it is best after 3-4 hours.
  5. To serve, slice the cucumber through the base to make small batons, and place in a dish at the table.
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