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Cucumber Kimchi Recipe


Lee Kang Hyo Bottle

Cucumber kimchi is a great example of the ying and the yang in Korean cuisine.  The coolness of the cucumbers is balanced with the spiciness of the chile powder.  The oldest references to kimchi date back about 3000 years, originally made with cabbage and beef stock.  Chile powder was added to kimchi after 1500, when the ingredient was introduced after the discovery of the New World. — Maite Gomez-Réjon.

Adapted from the ArtBites tour of the UCLA Fowler Museum: Korean Food and Symbols.

*Note: Pictured is one of the works of art that inspired this recipe.


  • 1/2 gallon plus 1/3 cup water
  • ¾ cup, plus 1 tablespoon salt
  • 20 cucumbers, unpeeled, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into ½-inch lengths
  • 1 bunch chives, cut into ½-inch lengths
  • ½ cup chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons, plus 1 teaspoon sugar


Mix ½ gallon of water with ¾ cup of salt, stirring for the salt to dissolve.

Soak the cucumbers in salt water for 20 minutes, then remove from salt water and rinse.

Place garlic in a blender and make a paste. Combine the garlic paste, onion, scallions, chives, chile powder and 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons sugar in a large bowl.

Add the cucumbers to the spicy mixture and mix until well coated. Divide evenly in jars to store.

Stir 1 teaspoon sugar into 1/3 cup of water. When sugar dissolves, pour the sugar water over cucumbers. Let sit 1 day before serving.  Refrigerate after opening.


Click here to see the Eating Through the Ages: A Museum and Culinary Tour story.