Refreshing Cucumber Kimchi Salad Recipe

Kimchi has been getting a lot of air time lately as a new-crowned superfood, lauded for its probiotic benefits provided by the fermentation process. The trouble with homemade kimchi, however, is that it takes a long time to make — recipe developer Miriam Hahn says that 14 days of fermentation are needed in order to grow all those beneficial bacteria that make it so good for your gut.

Hahn explains to us, though, that there is a difference between a kimchi salad such as this one and true fermented kimchi. "In this salad recipe," she tells us, "you do get the taste of a spicy kimchi, but in a salad format." While this salad does need to sit overnight, Hahn does say that it technically isn't really fermented. Still, she tells us that it has all kinds of nutritious benefits of its own due to the healthy ingredients that she uses to make it. Oh, and if you're wondering, why cucumbers, Hahn explains that kimchi doesn't have to be made from cabbage alone. "There are lots of kimchi variations, she says, and explains that "Using cucumbers is a popular way in Korea."

Gather the ingredients

To make this salad, you'll use five different items from the produce section: cucumbers (either the large English kind or the small pickling kind), white cabbage, scallions, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger. Hahn says these veggies all have their health benefits. "Cucumbers are one of the most hydrating vegetables and they have lots of vitamin K, B, and C," she tells us, while "cabbage is in the cruciferous family so [it has] lots of sulforaphane, a cancer fighting compound." She also notes that both of these veggies are full of fiber. Ginger, she adds, has "lots of anti-inflammatory benefits [and is] also great for digestion."

For the seasoning, you'll be using fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and either togarashi, which is a Japanese spice blend, or gochugaru, which is the Korean chili powder used to make gochujang. You'll also need some salt.

Prep the veggies for the salad

Before you can get started making this salad, you'll need to prepare all of the vegetables. While you do not need to peel the cucumbers, you will need to slice each of them lengthwise and then cut them crosswise into half-moons about ⅛-inch thick. You will also need to slice the cabbage into thin strips, then chop the scallions (both the light and dark parts). Once you peel and mince both the garlic and the ginger, you'll be ready to make the salad.

This salad needs to sit overnight before it's ready

Now, mix the veggies together with the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and togarashi either in a large bowl or, better yet, in a resealable plastic container. Sprinkle everything with 1 teaspoon of salt and stir that in as well. Seal the container or bowl, and stick the salad in the fridge and leave it there for at least 12 hours before you serve it. As Hahn explains, "You let it sit overnight to meld flavors and soften the cucumber."

Enjoy this kimchi salad as a tasty side dish

Once the 12 hours is up, your kimchi salad is ready to serve. Unlike fermented kimchi, though, it won't last forever! Hahn says it will last for about 6 days, so plan to use it up within that time frame.

If you're wondering what to serve it with, Hahn says, "This is a really great side dish with just about any meal." She does say it is on the spicy side, but tells us "You can easily leave out the spicy Asian spice if you want to [make] the flavor milder, [as] you still get the kick from the garlic and the ginger." She also suggests that if you would prefer a vegan version of this salad, you can simply swap out the fish sauce for soy sauce. If you like, you can sprinkle extra togarashi or gochugaru over the salad before serving, and Hahn adds that she sometimes adds grape tomatoes, too.

Refreshing Cucumber Kimchi Salad Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
This fresh kimchi salad is packed with flavor and health benefits. Add it to your menu this week as a new side dish or healthy snack!
Prep Time
Cook Time
bowls of kimchi salad
Total time: 10 minutes
  • 2 English cucumbers or 4 small pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup white cabbage, sliced thin
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon togarashi spice blend or gochugaru powder, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then cut them crosswise into half-moons about ⅛-inch thick.
  2. Mix the cucumbers with all of the other ingredients.
  3. Let the kimchi salad rest for at least 12 hours in a covered container in the fridge.
  4. Season with additional togarashi or gochugaru before serving, if desired.
Calories per Serving 55
Total Fat 0.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 5.6 g
Sodium 474.6 mg
Protein 1.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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