quick same-day English cucumber asian pickle with togarashi
Salads, Side Dish

Quick & Easy Asian Cucumber Same-Day Pickle With Togarashi 

Cooks in 10 Minutes Difficulty Easy 0 comments

These quick and easy spicy cucumber same-day pickles are ideal when you want a tasty Asian-flavored accompaniment to your Korean meal. The saltiness of the Asian-inspired pickling juice is perfect when allowed to marinate for at least an hour. This tasty cucumber pickle is also a great way to use your surplus cucumbers during the summer season. The crispy freshness of cucumber in this vibrant pickle will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks! So go ahead and enjoy a side with your next Asian night meal.

I love cucumbers for their fresh, crisp flavor. They provide a refreshing crispness no matter how enjoyed, making them a perfect accompaniment to many meals. So when my daughter suggested adding them to our dinner as a spicy same-day pickle, I thought, why not? Her recipe includes some unique additions, making this same-day cucumber pickle a pleasure to the palette. Her step-father, who usually doesn’t like pickles, asked for a second serving and for more to be made soon. I agree that they are very yummy.

When making the pickles, we used the mandolin slicer to cut thin, long pieces of the cucumber. First, I sliced the cucumber in half because the whole English cucumber’s length seemed a tad unmanageable with chopsticks. As delicious as this quick pickle recipe is, next time, we will likely make cucumber rounds or even use those small snacking cucumbers you can find in bulk packages. 

The cucumber ribbons were delicious, though. However, if you settle on cutting up the water-rich vegetable, follow the proper steps to get the best crunchy texture and salty flavor. 

spicy cucumber pickle chilled

If you’re loving Asian flavor be sure to try our Gyudon– incidentally these Asian same-day pickles go great with that dish!

Why you will love this recipe

It’s super easy. Having a way to make same-day pickles is excellent when you want a little crisp accompaniment to your meal. 

​Bold flavor. This isn’t the meek vinegar-flavored dill pickle. This Korean-inspired cucumber pickle contains bold garlic, chili, sesame, soya, and togarashi flavor. The flavor punch is accentuated by adding rice vinegar to make the English cucumbers vibrant and delicious. 

Versatility: A quick, spicy Korean cucumber pickle is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways. It can serve as a zesty side dish alongside grilled meats or rice dishes, adding flavor to the meal. Additionally, it can be used as a topping or filling in sandwiches, wraps, or tacos, providing a refreshing and spicy element to balance other flavors.

Start the pickling process!

The first thing that must be done is selecting only the freshest cucumber. When shopping, it’s essential to find English cucumbers that are firm to the touch with a slight give when gently squeezed. Avoid soft or mushy cucumbers, as this could indicate that they are overripe. Look for cucumbers with smooth, unwrinkled skin. Avoid cucumbers with blemishes, bruises, or soft spots. Opt for cucumbers that have a vibrant, dark green color. 

Once you have the cucumber picked, purchase all the additional ingredients. Because we enjoy Asian flavors in our cooking, we have made a staple pantry that includes rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, togarashi, and chili paste. You will also need to have fresh garlic on hand, as well as white sugar. 

Often, Korean spicy pickles use saki or Mirin in the recipe. As a dry house, we opt for rice vinegar as a substitute. Rice vinegar has an acidity balanced perfectly in this recipe, resulting in a salty, subtly sweet cucumber pickle. 

There is a bit of controversy around our dinner table. The Korean dish that inspired my daughter to create this was an Asian cucumber salad. In our home, a salad typically comprises more than one vegetable with additional ingredients. So, for simple sake, I have chosen to call this a quick pickle as that’s what we called this style of dish growing up. 

This quick pickled cucumber recipe is simple enough to make. First, we slice the English cucumber in half in the center of its length. Then, slice down the lengthwise using your mandolin slicer. You can carefully slice with a knife if you don’t have a mandolin. Be careful to try to keep all slices the same thickness. 

Once you’ve sliced the crisp cucumber, add it to a bowl and cover it with six tablespoons of salt. That salt will draw out some of the moisture in the pickle. You want to do so to make the vegetables crisper and firmer. Removing moisture from the cucumbers allows the brine (vinegar, spices, etc.) to penetrate deeper into the cucumber slices, ensuring they are evenly flavored throughout. This enhances the flavor distribution and results in a more uniformly seasoned pickle.

When the cucumber is covered in salt, you can set it aside to work on the brine. We are using a cold brine solution for this pickle. Step one for the brine is to measure the salty soya sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chili oil, sesame oil, and togarashi into the bowl. You will peel, smash, then dice the fresh garlic from there. Add the fresh garlic to the rest of the ingredients and mix it well. 

Now, you can rinse the salt from the cucumber. It’s been approximately five minutes from when they were first salted. After rinsing the cucumber slices in cold water several times, you will pat them dry. Use a paper towel – the more absorbent, the better to remove excess water. 

​Return your cucumber to the bowl and pour the pickling liquid over the cucumber. Use a spoon to stir so all the cucumber is coated in the brine. Now chill the pickle for at least one hour covered before serving. The longer it sits in the brine, the more its flavor develops. 

You can store this spicy pickle in a covered container in the fridge for up to two weeks. 

brine cucumbers mixed well

Ingredients:

English cucumber: We used English cucumber to make this quick pickle because they have thinner skins vs the field pickles (gherkins) sold in the grocery store. They are readily available; only one is needed to make a small batch of this tasty recipe. 

Soya Sauce: Soy sauce brings a rich umami flavor to the salad, adding depth and complexity to the overall taste. This savory note enhances the other flavors in the salad, such as the chili oil’s spiciness and vinegar’s tanginess.

Fresh Garlic: When crushed and minced, the garlic releases its aromatic compounds, infusing the entire dish with its distinct taste.

Rice Vinegar: This provides acidity to the salad, contributing to its flavor and helps tenderize the cucumbers. The tangy and acidic nature of rice vinegar lends a refreshing quality to the salad, making it palate-cleansing and enjoyable.

Chili Oil: Bringing a bold and fiery kick to the salad, the chili oil imparts heat and spiciness that intensifies the overall flavor profile. Depending on the concentration of chili in the oil, it can range from mildly spicy to intensely hot, allowing you to adjust the heat level according to your preference.

Sesame Oil: While sesame oil is less assertive than chili oil, it contributes a subtle yet distinctive flavor to the salad. Its nutty undertones complement the other ingredients in the salad, enhancing their natural flavors without overpowering them. 

Togarashi: We added a bit of Japanese flare to this quick pickle in the form of Togarashi. The Togarashi typically consists of several ingredients, including chili peppers, sesame seeds, dried orange peel, seaweed, and spices such as ginger or Sichuan peppercorns.

serving spicy cucumber as side dish

Substitutions or Add-Ins To This Spicy Korean Cucumber Pickle.

English cucumber: Other cucumbers that would be equally suitable to this recipe are Persian, Japanese, and small pickling cucumbers like Kirby. It’s important to note that pickling cucumbers have little spines that must be rubbed off before slicing the cucumber.

Soya Sauce: This salty ingredient can be subbed out with Tamari, Coconut Aminos, or Liquid Aminos. All of which are gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions. 

Fresh Garlic: While fresh is best in this recipe for its pungent flavor and aromatic aroma, you can replace it with a dash of garlic oil. I don’t recommend using garlic powder as it’s a vastly different ingredient to fresh. Another alternative is dried garlic pieces. Before adding dried garlic pieces to the salad, rehydrate them in warm water or oil. This will soften the garlic pieces and help release their flavor, making them more similar to fresh garlic.

Rice Vinegar: This ingredient can be replaced with traditional Mirin. Remember that Mirin is a sweet rice wine, so you may need to adjust the other ingredients in the salad to balance the sweetness.

Chili Oil: This can be replaced with your homemade version. Heat two tablespoons of neutral oil in a small non-stick pan and add one tablespoon of red pepper flakes when hot. Heat for a few seconds, stirring to keep the flakes from burning. 

Sesame Oil: This ingredient has a distinct flavor, and it’s not recommended to substitute it with another oil unless you have a food allergy. In this case, you can use an oil with a neutral flavor and can withstand pickling without overpowering the other flavors. Good choices would be sunflower, canola, and vegetable oil. Opt for a neutral-flavored variety, such as light olive oil, if you prefer olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil may have too strong of a flavor for pickling and could alter the taste of the pickles.

Togarashi: This ingredient offers a complex and flavorful addition to the quick pickles. However, you can switch things up and use Gochugaru. The Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder with a medium heat level and a slightly sweet and smoky flavor. It’s commonly used in Korean cuisine and can work well in a spicy cucumber pickle.

Expert Tips, Serving and Storing Suggestions

Tip #1: Thinly Slice the Cucumbers: To ensure that the pickling solution penetrates the cucumbers evenly and quickly, slice the cucumbers thinly. This allows for more surface area contact with the pickling liquid, resulting in a faster pickle process and a more flavorful outcome.

Tip #2: Distribute the Pickling Solution: After combining the cucumbers with the pickling solution, take a few minutes to stir the cucumbers gently. This helps to distribute the flavors of the togarashi and other ingredients throughout the cucumbers more evenly, ensuring that each bite is well-seasoned and delicious.

Tip #3: Rest In the Fridge: While the pickles can be enjoyed immediately after preparing, allowing them to rest in the fridge for an hour can enhance the infusion of flavors. During this time, the cucumbers absorb the flavors of the pickling solution more thoroughly, resulting in a more robust and flavorful pickle.

Korean spicy cucumber pickles pair well with various dishes, especially those from Korean cuisine and other Asian-inspired dishes. We enjoyed this with our Gyudon (beef rice bowl) to lighten the meal. You can pair it with your next Korean BBQ, Bibimbap, or Grilled Fish and Seafood.

The whole thing is so simple that you want to make another batch immediately. So keep the recipe card handy, and be sure to have regular rice vinegar as part of your pantry staples. The simple recipe stores well covered in the fridge for up to two weeks. That’s if it will last that long!

Try switching the whole recipe up by cutting the crisp cucumbers into a different cucumber piece. We used sliced thinly in this recipe, but rounds or even julienned strips of skinned cucumber with the seeds removed. Quick pickling like this is an age-old way to enjoy fresh produce while preserving food using simple techniques and accessible ingredients.  

Quick & Easy Asian Cucumber Same-Day Pickle With Togarashi

Amber Bondar
This Asian cucumber same-day pickle is quick and easy. Flavorful with a brine that has a hint of Togarashi it makes a great chilled side accompaniment to your meat dishes. Bright refreshing and crisp cucumbers with that sweet spicy heat. Make these easy same-day pickles in just a few minutes and enjoy with any beef or chicken dinner.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Chilling 1 hour
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 3

Equipment

  • 1 Medium Salad Bowl
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 Teaspoon
  • Mandolin Slicer
  • Paring Knife
  • Paper Towel

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Lrg English Cucumber Cut In Half & Then Lengthwise Thinly With Mandolin Slicer
  • 6 Tbsp Table Salt
  • Tbsp Soya Sauce
  • 1 Lrg Clove Garlic Crushed & Then Minced
  • 1 Tsp White Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Oil
  • ½ Tsp Sesame Oil
  • ½ Tsp Togarashi Seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Wash the English Cucumber then cut in half. Using mandolin slicer make thin slices of down the length.
  • Place cucumber in bowl and cover with the salt. Set aside.
  • Make up the brine with the remaining ingredients. Mix well set aside.
  • Rinse the cucumber under running cold water to remove salt.
  • Lay cucumber on paper towel and pat dry.
  • Put cucumber back in the bowl and add the brine.
  • Using spoon or fork gently turn cucumber pieces around to fully coat with the brine.
  • Cover and chill in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.
  • Serve as a side to any chicken or beef dish.
Keyword easy side dish, English Cucumber, Simple salad, Togarashi

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