Our friend Liana is an amazing cook. Last week she made a Korean feast, and promised she would give us her recipes. We just had to share…they really aren’t as hard as you would think!
Korean meals are always accompanied by banchan which are side dishes to complement the main dish. One of my favorites is spicy cucumbers. Here’s my mother’s recipe. The key is in the Korean hot pepper.
First you take cucumbers (preferably Persian or Kirby). For the Persian you can leave the skin on and for Kirby I just like to take off some. Slice into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds. Salt heavily and allow to sit at least an hour. Take a cloth and put cucumbers in and squeeze out excess water. For the sauce take:
1 1/2 tb Korean hot pepper flake or to taste—I like it spicy.
1 tb rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tb sugar
1 tsp crushed garlic
Using a plastic bag or glove massage ingredients into cucumbers. (This is so you don’t burn yourself if you happen to touch your eyes or nose afterwards–it can take a while to get the pepper out of your skin.)
Then taste to make sure it is the right balance and enjoy! This can also be made in advance and refrigerated.
Go to Korea town to get the Korean hot pepper—most grocery stores will have and you can get all the ingredients in one stop! Spend the money on good quality pepper—it makes a difference. You can find them online here, and this is an interesting source that tells you how to store it, and how to identify it.