Oisobagi Kimchi (stuffed cucumber kimchi)

Oisobagi Kimchi (Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi)

Like most Asian culinary undertakings, making kimchi is much more an art than a science. Families pass the recipe down verbally, and it evolves organically as families move from one region to another, changing based on trends, climate, and local ingredients.

As with any art, inspiration plays a big role in making kimchi, and in this case my inspiration came from a cooking demo that Maangchi put on at the Asian Feastival a few weekends ago. She made Oisobagi Kimchi (오이 소박이), or stuffed cucumber kimchi which is one of my personal favorites. My eyes always light up when I see this come out amongst the banchan at Korean restaurants, but it never occurred to me just how simple it is to make at home. For a mere pittance of effort, you’re handsomely rewarded with crunchy, mildly spicy, and intensely garlicky pickles that look almost as good as they taste.

Oisobagi Kimchi Recipe

My theory that kimchi making is an art is further reinforced by the fact that no one ever measures the ingredients. Ask any Korean halmuni and she’ll give you the recipe in vague measures like handfuls and pinches (that’s assuming she likes you enough to divulge her secret recipe at all). This is both a good and bad thing as it keeps the “recipe” open for interpretation, but it also makes it difficult for people outside your family to replicate (maybe that’s intentional).

That’s why I’ve put together a step-by-step photo tutorial to walk you through the process of making Oisobagi Kimchi. To keep in the artisinal spirit, I’ve given suggested measures, but feel free to change things around. Try adding other vegetables, or adjust the sweetness, saltiness or spiciness to suit your tastes. Who knows, in a couple batches, you may stumble upon a combo you love, and then you’ll have your own family Oisobagi Kimchi recipe to pass down to your kids.

I know some might cry blasphemy, but in my version, I use miso to provide the salt for the pickling. It’s not very traditional, but I like the nutty mature flavor and umami that miso imparts on the fresh green cucumber. It makes it taste like it’s been fermenting for a lot longer than it actually has. If you’re looking for something more traditional, check out Maangchi’s version along with a great video here.

Oisobagi Kimchi (stuffed cucumber kimchi)

printable recipe

10 kirby cucumbers
handful of salt
1 carrot julienned
1 bunch garlic chives (the flat leaf variety about 2 cups chopped)
ball of miso (about 1/4 cup)
3 cloves of garlic, grated
handful of gochugaru (1/3-1/2 cup)
small handful sesame seeds (about 2 tablespoons)
honey (1-2 tablespoons)

Oisobagi Kimchi (Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi)
Cut each cucumber in half, then cut a slit down the middle up to 1/2″ of the end. Rotate the cucumber 90 degrees and cut another slit down the middle up to 1/2″ of the end. If you look at the third photo above, you’ll see that the cucumber is cut into quarters lengthwise, but the quarters are still attached at the very end. This makes a pocket in the cucumber for us to stuff.

Making Oisobagi Kimchi
Cover the cucumbers in a generous amount of kosher salt. The salt helps coax the water out of the cucumbers making them more crunchy. Don’t worry about over-salting as we will be washing off the extra salt later. Make sure you get the salt in between the slits in the cucumber. Set them aside for at least an hour to allow as much water to come out as possible.

Oisobagi Kimchi Recipe
While the cucumber is resting, shred a carrot, chop up 1 bunch of garlic chives, then add them to a bowl with 3 cloves of grated garlic.

Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi
Add the gochugaru, miso, toasted sesame seeds and honey.

Mixing Oisobagi Kimchi
Use your clean hands to mash all the ingredients together.

Cucumbers for Oisobagi Kimchi
When the cucumbers have gone from an opaque pale green to a translucent green with water collecting at the bottom of the bowl, they are ready. Rinse them thoroughly in cold water and squeeze as much water out of each cucumber as you can.

Stuffing cucumber kimchi
Stuff a few tablespoons of the garlic chive mixture into the pocket of each cucumber.

Oisobagi Kimchi (Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi)
You can eat the oisobagi kimchi after a day, but it’s best if you let it pickle in the fridge for at least one week.

  • http://twitter.com/sugarbardiva davina

    Kimchi using miso as well?? Wow I’m trying to imagine the flavours and I think it’d be delicious. Plus using this kimchi to make kimchi jjigae might give the soup stock a powerful flavour 😀 I’m just getting back into blog-reading now that I’ve time on my hands and it just has come to my realization (not that i’ve never noticed it before but it’s now more noticeable than ever) that you write immensely well and it’s probably one reason I find myself hanging on to every word of yours. It’s why your blog is so charming and I always return to it, for the recipes for the pictures and definitely for the very clear and calming way you write Marc! x

  • http://www.healthybursts.com Anita

    WOW – looks fantastic! I love your photos and your recipes always use such beautiful, fresh produce. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/janbenn Jan Bennett

    Marc – you always come up with the best recipes! I’m loving this.

  • Pinko Punko

    I do love this banchan the best. Followed by the perilla leaves.

  • Sherry

    Oh this is such a winner! Will be voting yes!

  • http://twitter.com/runningcate Catherine M

    I am definitely going to vote for you…this looks awesome! I’ve made regular napa cabbage kimchi a few times and I think it’s time I branch out!

  • http://twitter.com/sippitysup sippitysup

    I have made cabbage kimchi and can appreciate the steps involved, but as usual you take a standard and go further and more delicious. GREG

  • http://www.thelittlefoodie.com thelittlefoodie

    Beautiful. Seriously good. I am definitely going to make this.

  • http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com Winnie

    A gorgeous tutorial, Marc. Your photos are terrific and this recipe looks amazing. Love it!

  • Rooftopgourmet

    I love kimchi but I’ve never made it or even learned how to make it. This looks so amazing. How does it actually “pickle” in the fridge??? is it the ingredients that you stuff them with? I am curious because I love kimchi. I thought that it was similar to pickling vegetables but I think I’m way off. You have my vote. Thanks

    • Anonymous

      If you’re referring to the fermentation, it will go faster if you leave it
      out at room temperature, but it will still turn sour if you leave it in the
      fridge long enough.

  • http://www.bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com Ninetteenrique

    Marc, I’ve been away from blogging for awhile, so it’s comforting to come back and seeing you do your thing. I’d love some of that kimchi right now!

  • Duchess

    Amazing, just stunning!

  • http://www.singforyoursupperblog.com Amy (Sing For Your Supper)

    I love it!! Once again, you’ve done a totally awesome job!! As always, you’ve got my vote!

  • http://whitneysamusebouche.blogspot.com/ Whit @ Amuse Bouche

    Wow, that is something I definitely would not have known how to execute if I hadn’t read this! Great job!

  • http://twitter.com/Cuisinerd The Cuisinerd

    I have a serious Kimchi problem and now you’re giving me more reasons not to give it up! This is incredibly delicious looking – you get my vote!

  • http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/4/view/1327 jacobskitchen

    Stunning as always! Your photos are always gorgeous and this tutorial is especially so. Nicely done. I voted for you!

    Good luck! Hope to see us both in round 5!!! =)

  • http://www.kitchencorners.com Damaris palmer

    Your pictures are so incredible. You have my vote.

  • http://www.thedailyspud.com DailySpud

    I visited Korea once for a few days and was just amazed by the sheer variety of kimchi. I didn’t come away with any recipes but this looks like an excellent one to add to the basic cabbage kimchi that I’ve made before, so thanks Marc!

  • http://www.tiffintales.com Heena @ Tiffin Tales

    Beautiful as always! I didn’t know about stuffed cucumber kimchi until now – I can’t wait to have it. My vote’s in. Good luck!

  • http://twitter.com/riceandwheat angi c

    What a coincidence! I made oisobagi a couple months ago due to a sudden influx of carrots and cucumbers and I also used maangchi’s recipe. The recipe on her site uses a LOT of salt for the cucumbers though, so mine came out way too salty, even for kimchi. I probably needed to rinse them more. Too bad I didn’t find your post then to guide me through it. Um, by some sort of time travel, I guess. Good luck!

  • Stay-At-Home-Chef

    Great post! Your photos are stunning…good luck in the competition! Hope to join you in the next round :)

  • http://www.wearenotmartha.com Sues

    This looks awesome!! But I don’t know if I could wait a whole week for it to pickle :) Beautiful!!

  • http://twitter.com/southbayfoodies Michael JB

    Wow! Gotta try this one. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  • http://www.thecreativepot.net/ Marisa

    Wow, it looks a lot easier to make than I imagined it would be. Thanks for sharing your step-by-step instructions – your photos are lovely!

  • http://www.foodshethought.blogspot.com Foodshethought

    Beautiful snaps, and a simple but thorough tutorial. Thank you and good luck!

  • Oui, Chef

    A terrific tutorial, and what looks to be a flavor bomb of a treat….you get a vote from me. – S

  • http://www.ameliefille.blogspot.com/ Singerinkitchen

    This looks so good! I am saving this recipe! Lovely pictures!

  • http://ediblecville.blogspot.com Libby

    Beautiful pictures! And a wonderful way to make a great version of this Korean “art” Cheers!

  • Chris

    Your posts are beautiful and mouthwatering! Time for lunch! -chris

  • http://www.simplemathbakery.com Jeanne

    Excellent tutorial. I’m ready to make some kimchi! And I’m voting for you right now.

  • @lickmyspoon

    I’m craving some kimchi fried rice, I might have to follow this tutorial in the near future. Your photos are mouthwatering as usual. Voting for you!

    Lick My Spoon

  • Runs With Spatulas

    Excellent tutorial and fabulous pics! Good luck in round 4!

  • Allison

    Nice job with your photos and this challenge!

  • http://twitter.com/OneTribeGourmet Sara

    you have my vote, Marc! :)

  • http://twitter.com/umikim Lydia Kim

    my FAVORITE kind of kimchee hands down…

  • http://www.wheelsandlollipops.com/ Wheels and Lollipops

    My mouth is watering for these !! Great photos and I love the way that you show the sequence. I love eating this in restaurants but never thought of making it. Will definitely give this a try. Good Luck !

  • http://www.youfedababychili.com/ Ben

    New reader, and I’ll state the obvious: I want to marry your website. I love how clean it is, and how vibrant your photos. Now: oi kimchi is a favorite of mine, and you have this Korean’s permission to screw tradition. Miso is a clever touch. This looks amazing. Really nice work, enthusiastically voted!

  • the constant hunger

    Lovely recipe. Those veggies look so crisp! Best of luck and hope you move on to the next round.

  • http://twitter.com/Londonfoodieny Anna Helm-Baxter

    voted! well done looks absolutely beautiful.

  • http://www.debishawcross.com Debi (Table Talk)

    My very good friend is Korean. His mom is an amazing cook, and I keep trying to get something set up to spend a day with her in the kitchen. She does not divulge a whole lot of info. when it comes to her recipes.
    Maybe if I bring her some of these stuffed cucumbers I will be “in”. Thanks for sharing this excellent tutorial! (You know it’s good when you want some kimchi at 9:20am)

  • http://twitter.com/SpeakeasyKitch Charmaine Rose

    Beautiful foodtography as usual. Thanks for the arrows… they help. :)

  • Tangled Noodle

    Talk about a hands-on recipe! Your tutorial photographs are just as stunningly beautiful as the finished dish. Congratulations on advancing in PFB2010 – just voted!

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    I have never been so lucky as to find these served at my usual Korean restaurants. I guess I’m not going to the right places, huh! Sigh. These are so beautiful looking, and I love the infusion of miso. Unexpected, but brilliant.

  • http://souperior.wordpress.com/ Emma

    Yum! Now where on earth do I lay my hands on Kirby cucumbers in the UK…..

    • Anonymous

      Any smallish cucumber such as lebanese or japanese should work as well. I
      like kirbys because they have a slightly thicker skin that makes them extra
      crunchy when you pickle them.

  • http://twitter.com/feedthebf Peggy Labor

    These are so cute and definitely a great tutorial! Good job and good luck!

  • trinh

    Look really good, I will try to make this for sure

  • http://cook-eat-love.com/ Beejay72

    Stunning photos. So inspiring. A red heart coming your way.

  • http://simmerdownfood.com noëlle {simmer down!}

    I’ve been wanting to try my hand at kimchi and you make it very straightforward-looking. Don’t think I’ve ever tasted this version but I will soon! I recently went to a Korean market so I finally have the gochugaru.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KiNgDeeM Nicholas Teri

     Bookmarked! Another recipe I cant wait to try. Do you have a traditional kimchi recipe to share?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Haven’t gotten around to writing it out yet. On the long list of recipes to write out and post:-)


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