Simple Sides: Korean Cucumber Salad

Probably because each summer my parents grow their own, I love a good cucumber salad. There is this one I do with chilli and poppy seeds, and this spicy Chinese number I like to do as part of an Asian-inspired spread.

Yes, I know I did not need another Asian-inspired cucumber salad on here, but we’ve got cucumbers coming out of the greenhouse at a rate of knots, and this one I find is lighter, and much nuttier thanks to the generous addition of sesame than the Chinese version, and much better suited to serve alongside some sort of meat or other protein, rather than as a separate small plate.

I’ve used my recipe for kimchee-like Korean cucumber pickles in One Pan Pescatarian (ad) as a template, though this is essentially the traditional spicy Korean cucumber salad – Oi Muchim – without the addition of soy sauce, which I chose to leave out to make this salad a different creature to the Chinese-style one I’ve linked above. For me, toasted sesame oil is as much a dominant Korean flavour as kimchee and gochujang, so I really wanted to give it a chance to sing. 

Speaking of this cucumber salad as a Korean side dish, there are a few things I think it would be delicious in place of the sliced cucumber in my Cold Korean Noodle Bowl, or as a summery replacement for my sesame baby pak choi in my Slow Cooker Korean Chicken & Kimchee Bowls.

This salad also keeps well in the fridge overnight (if anything the flavour improves, just remember to pour off any excess water from the cucumber before serving) but not for much longer. 

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Korean Cucumber Salad

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-3 1x
  • Category: Sides
  • Cuisine: Korean
  • Diet: Vegan


A simple Korean cucumber salad, perfect to serve alongside Asian-inspired meats, as banchan, or as part of a larger Korean-style spread. 


  • 1 tsp gochugaru (Korean dried chilli flakes, see note)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Japanese rice wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • very large pinch sea salt, plus extra for serving
  • large pinch golden caster sugar
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) English cucumbers
  • 4 large spring onions
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds 


  1. In a large bowl whisk together the gochugaru, rice wine vinegar (see note), toasted sesame oil, a very large pinch of salt and a good pinch of sugar to make a dressing.
  2. Top, tail and quarter the cucumber lengthways (peeling is a personal choice here, either go with or without, or pattern your cucumber peel for visual effect) before chopping into rough chunks. 
  3. Add the cucumber to the bowl and toss well with the dressing.
  4. Top, tail and slice the spring onions on the diagonal.
  5. Transfer the cucumber and its dressing to a serving dish and scatter the sliced spring onions and sesame seeds over the top. Finish with a little more sea salt before serving. 


Gochugaru is a Korean red pepper powder / dried chilli flakes that usually come in a clear, red topped canister. You can find them at the Asian supermarket or order them on Amazon (ad). You’ll miss out on some of the signature Korean flavour, but Pul Bieber / Aleppo chilli flakes will do in a pinch. 

You might need to add a little more salt and sugar to taste to your marinade if you use Chinese rice wine vinegar which is unseasoned, rather than the seasoned Japanese version specified, but the substitution is still acceptable.