13.129 Oi Sobagi

Cycle 13 – Item 129

14 (Sat) May 2022

Oi Sobagi


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with W, IZ

Last month, I made a batch of ggakdugi (radish kimchi) (see 13.097 Ggakdugi), using my own brand of kimchi paste (see 11.144 Kimchi Paste Recipe).

This time, I used the same kimchi paste to make oi sobagi (cucumber kimchi).

Baek Oi (white cucumber) (aka Japanese cucumber)


  • 8 long cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
  • 500 grams of buchu (garlic chives)
  • 2 cups of kimchi paste (see recipe above)
The cucumbers are crunchy, white, and sweet, no trace of bitterness.

1.  Wash the cucumbers and cut into fourths, each about 6-8 cm in length.

TIP: If sliced too close to the end, the cucumber might break apart during the stuffing.

2.  Slice each piece lengthwise about two-thirds of the way down, leaving at least 2 cm on one end.

Creates a cross section for the stuffing.

3.  Slice again, perpendicular to the first slice.

This stuff is cheap – I also use it to salt pasta water.

4.  Toss the cucumbers in salt until evenly coated and let them sit for about 2 hours.

TIP: Any salt would do, though conventional wisdom advises that fine salt is trickier to work with, potentially ending up too salty.
The salt kick-starts the pickling process and makes the cucumbers more pliable for stuffing.

5.  After 2 hours, rinse the cucumbers under running water and shake off excess moisture.

I usually leave the colander on its own in the sink, but placed it over a bowl this time to show how much water will run off from the salting.

6.  Meanwhile, cut the buchu into lengths of about 4 cm.

Tip: If buchu is unavailable, just mix the salted cucumbers with kimchi paste – don’t substitute with chives or scallions, which turn out gooey and stinky when fermented.
The kimchi paste recipe was developed specifically with oi sobagi in mind.

7.  Mix the buchu with the kimchi paste and let it sit for 2 hours (until the cucumbers are ready to go).

This alone could be buchu kimchi.
Tip: Gloves protect the hands from stinking of fish sauce and garlic for days.

8.  Taking a quartered cucumber piece in one hand, grab a big pinch of marinated buchu with the other hand and stuff the scapes into the cross section, taking care not to break the quadrants at the base.

By luck, this container fit almost exactly all the cucumbers, plus one.

9.  Stack the stuffed cucumbers in a stainless steel or glass container.

TIP: Leaving the container on the counter at room temperature for about 6 hours or so (give or take, depending on the weather) will accelerate the fermentation. 

10.  Seal the container and place in the refrigerator.

After 2 days, the cucumbers on the bottom layer have been fermenting in juice, thus much tastier.

Oi sobagi may be served at various points in the fermentation process.  They can be eaten right away, perhaps after chilling in the fridge for an hour, but they’ll taste a bit raw.   Ideally, allow the flavors to develop slowly under refrigeration for about 2 days, when the kimchi will be perfectly ripe and crispy.  The cucumbers will begin to turn mushy relatively soon thereafter, compared to napa cabbage or radish, so the kimchi should be enjoyed as quickly as possible, best within a week or two, a month at most.

Although oi sobagi is typically served in whole pieces – which look nicer on the plate, and show that they were hand-stuffed – each person is then forced to take an entire piece and figure out a way to eat it without making a mess.
TIP: A tidier solution is to cut the pieces in advance, for example by snipping the cucumbers at their bases with kitchen shears, resulting in 1 round segment + 4 short stems.

When done right, before it goes mushy, oi sobagi is probably my favorite kind of kimchi.  It’s the only kimchi that I could eat on its own with plain rice, no other banchan needed.

Here, oi sobagi served with shrimp & mushroom noodle soup.

NOTE: I will experiment with the warm water technique next time, which is reported to keep the cucumbers crispy for longer.


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