“If people are eating pickles after many generations, where did that come from? It’s central to a culture, to a history, to a personal story. It’s communication at it’s most fundamental” .
Ain’t that true of all food, everywhere, that has been passed down to us by our ancestors? Cooking methods, choice of ingredients, recipes, tips and tricks, whether written or as family secrets, given from one generation to the next are as much part of our culture and heritage as the awe inspiring architectural monuments or paintings and sculptures hanging in the museums.
Pickle making or preserving food by expanding its lifespan through fermentation is a an art that has been around for thousands of years. Pickles are considered to be one of Cleopatra’s beauty secrets and were mentioned in Shakespeare’s writings. They made a handy food for shepherds, sailors and travellers. There is no culinary culture that doesn’t have a proud pickling history. Pickles can be sweet, salty, sour and hot or, in the case of Korean Pickled Cucumber, all of the above.
OI-Muchim or Korean Pickled Cucumber is actually more of a seasoned and spiced fresh salad than pickle because it’s not fermented like cucumber kimchi. Quick, almost instant to make and works like magic as perfect side to most summer dishes. You can even serve it as an appetiser if your guests can handle the heat. I love to make an open sandwich with these topped over a slice of toasted bread and cottage cheese.
Again one of those recipes that you will want to make again and again. If the seasoning feels to hot, salty or sour, you can reduce the quantity to suit your taste but it’s supposed to be hot! You can also skip sesame oil, if the taste is too overpowering for you. I slice cucumbers into fine ribbons because they soak up the vinegar water and seasoning more quickly and look prettier in a plate.
2 tablespoons vinegar
salt to taste
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 stalk spring onion
1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)
This Is What You Do:
Wash and remove the ends of cucumbers. Slice them into 1/8 inch thick slices or, as I did, make very fine ribbons with a vegetable peeler.
Immerse the cucumbers in 1/4 cup warm water, vinegar and salt solution for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely chop garlic and spring onions.
Mix chilli flakes, sugar, garlic, onion, sesame oil and sesame seeds in a bowl.
Remove cucumbers from the vinegar solution. Add to the prepared seasonings and mix well.
Eat fresh with grilled or fried food, add to wraps or sandwiches or simply serve as a spicy side with Asian mains.