Kid-friendly Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad

Recipe: Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad

Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by DronG/Shutterstock.com
prep time
5 minutes
cook time
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad

Not your typical salad, Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad is a refreshing blend of—you guessed it—smashed cucumbers marinated in a tantalizing mixture of vegetable oil, honey, crushed red pepper flakes, and vinegar. The result is a flavorful and texturally fantastic dish that's a hit with both kids and adults.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • marinate :

    to soak food in a seasoned liquid to add flavor and tenderize it before cooking.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • smash :

    to break up food into smaller pieces or squash food to flatten or soften it.

Equipment Checklist

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
scale
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Ingredients

Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T rice vinegar

Instructions

Korean Smashed Cucumber Salad

1.
chop + measure + stir

Mince 1 garlic clove and chop 2 cucumbers into 4 large pieces and place into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of salt and reserve for later. In a smaller bowl, measure and mix 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and whisk them together.

2.
smash + marinade + serve

Using a wooden spoon, smash the cucumbers! This step will soften and break down the cucumber into smaller pieces. Once sufficiently smashed, pour the mixture of oil, vinegar, and spices over the cucumbers. Mix and allow the cucumbers to sit for at least 10 minutes to soak up all that delicious dressing. Serve alongside Glazed Korean “Wanja Jorim” Balls (see recipe)!

Surprise Ingredient: Cucumber!

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Photo by Taras Grebinets/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I’m Cucumber!

"I'm as cool as a cucumber. Actually, I am a cucumber! I have a thick, dark green peel; I am longer than I am wide; and I am a fruit that's often used as a veggie! There are three types of cucumbers: slicing, pickling, and burpless. The slicing and burpless varieties, with or without their peels, are tasty and refreshing sliced, chopped, or minced in salads, sandwiches, salsa, sauces, appetizers, and smoothies or other drinks. The pickling cucumber eventually becomes a pickle (after its pickling spa treatment)!"

History & Etymology

  • Cucumbers are one of the oldest known cultivated vegetables. They have been grown for at least 3,000 years and are believed to have originated in India. 
  • The early Greeks or Romans may have introduced cucumbers to Europe. Records indicate that the French cultivated them in the 9th century and the English in the 14th century. Then Spanish explorers brought cucumbers to the Americas in the 16th century. 
  • Pickled cucumbers, or pickles, may have been produced first by workers building the Great Wall of China or by people in Mesopotamia's Tigris Valley. 
  • A 1630 book called "New England's Plantation" by Francis Higginson, describing plants grown in a garden on Conant's Island in Boston Harbor, mentions "cowcumbers." The cucumber may have been dubbed cowcumber due to thinking at that time that uncooked vegetables were fit only for cows.
  • The word "cucumber" comes from late Middle English, from the Old French "cocombre," from the Latin "cucumis."

Anatomy

  • The cucumber is a creeping vine plant that is part of the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. Other members are melon, squash, pumpkin, and watermelon. Cucumbers grow on a vine, often in sandy soil. Sandy soil warms faster in the spring, giving cucumbers a more favorable growing environment. 
  • Cucumber length varies. Slicers are 6 to 8 inches, burpless 8 to 10 inches, and picklers are 3 to 5 inches long. 
  • Cucumbers have a mild melon flavor. Slicing cucumbers will have seeds in their flesh, preferably small, soft seeds. Burpless cucumbers are slightly sweeter with a more tender skin and are easier to digest. They may also have no or very few seeds.
  • "Cool as a cucumber" isn't just a catchy phrase. A cucumber's inner temperature can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air. This is because it consists mainly of water, which also applies to watermelons, and it takes more energy to heat the water inside the cucumber than the air around it. No wonder these are such summertime favorites! However, we don't say "as cool as a watermelon," so how did this expression become part of our vocabulary? It may have come from a poem in John Gay's Poems, New Song on New Similes from 1732. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Cucumbers are ready to be harvested 50 to 70 days after planting. They are ripe when they are firm and bright or dark green. Slicing cucumbers will be six to eight inches long. Avoid leaving them on the vine too long, or their taste may become bitter and their rind tougher. 
  • At the store, look for firm cucumbers without blemishes, wrinkles, or soft spots. Organic cucumbers are the best choice to avoid pesticide residue, if available. In addition, washing them reduces the amount of residue and pathogens. 
  • If you don't eat your fresh, uncut cucumbers immediately, store them in your refrigerator crisper drawer in a plastic bag for up to three days if unwaxed and up to a week if waxed. 
  • You can eat slicing and burpless cucumbers by themselves, slice or chop them into salads, or blend them into sauces and smoothies. 
  • Pickling cucumbers are pickled whole or sliced in brine, sugar, vinegar, and spices. There are several kinds of pickles, such as sweet, bread-and-butter, gherkin, and kosher dill. 

Nutrition

  • Cucumbers are 96 percent water, have very little fat, and are low in calories. 
  • Cucumbers contain small amounts of the vitamins you need every day and 16 percent of the daily value of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting.

 

What is Cucumber Salad?

Photo by nblx/Shutterstock.com
  • A cucumber salad consists of sliced or chopped cucumbers with a vinegary or creamy dressing. A vinaigrette made with wine vinegar is also an option. Salting the cucumbers first by putting them in a colander, sprinkling salt on them, and letting them sit for a few minutes helps remove extra moisture and helps keep them crisp, not soggy.
  • Persian cucumbers are the best variety for cucumber salad because of their mild flavor and thin skins you do not have to peel. You can also use English cucumbers. Generally, cucumbers do not need to be peeled, but if a cucumber has a thicker skin, you may want to peel it first.  
  • A refreshing summer version of a cucumber salad includes watermelon. An Asian version uses rice vinegar with added ginger, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Korean cucumber salad ("oi muchim") is a spicy version, and the German "gurkensalat" (cucumber salad) may have a vinegar-based dressing with dill or onions or a creamy one using sour cream or yogurt.

Let's Learn About South Korea!

Photo by JEONGHYEON NOH/Shutterstock.com
  • South Korea is officially named the Republic of Korea. It is a separate country from North Korea. This is because North and South Korea were divided into two countries during the Korean War in the 1950s. 
  • South Korea has a day dedicated to celebrating their children: May 5th. A children's book author started it because he wanted Korean children to have a sense of independence and national pride. It was designated a national holiday in 1975. On this day, cities and towns celebrate with parades, and children receive free admission to many movies, zoos, and theme parks. 
  • Literacy is high—98 percent of Korean adults can read! The alphabet of the Korean language is called Hangul. King Sejong the Great created it in 1443 to increase literacy. Korea's previous alphabet was Hanja or Han Chinese Characters. Today, Hangul is considered one of the most efficient alphabets in the world.  
  • Seoul, the capital city, has a population of about 10 million, densely packed into a small area. Many people live in high-rise apartments.
  • Koreans have two New Year's Days. In addition to January 1st, Koreans also celebrate the Lunar New Year in February.
  • The Korean martial art taekwondo is the national sport. Unsurprisingly, Koreans have won the most Olympic gold medals in taekwondo.
  • Korean babies are considered one year old on the day they are born, then add another year on New Year's Day. Historically, Koreans have not celebrated their birthdays on the day they were born; instead, they celebrate turning one year older collectively on New Year's Day. 
  • Parents hold a party on a baby's first birthday and place several objects on a table to let the child pick their favorite. Whatever the child chooses is believed to predict their future or a dominant personality trait. For example, if the child picks up a book, they are destined to be smart; if the child picks up money, they will be wealthy; if the child picks up food, they will not be hungry; and if the child picks up the thread, they will live a long life.
  • Koreans are very in tune with their bodies, eat the right amount of food, and focus on nutrition. The temperature of their food matters to them. Koreans follow Eastern Asian medicine principles: on the hottest days of the summer, it's traditional to eat boiling chicken ginseng soup! The rationale behind it? There shouldn't be a sharp contrast between a person's body temperature and one's food—or else, your stomach will get upset.
  • Kimchi, the nation's favorite dish eaten at almost every meal, is made by fermenting vegetables, fruit, and even oysters. It is said to help prevent the flu. Kimchi becomes more sour and potent the longer it sits. There are 250 different kinds of kimchi! 
  • During autumn, Korean families come together to make enough kimchi to last several months, sharing with neighbors, friends, and family. This holiday is called Kimjang. 
  • Korean adults eat seaweed soup on their birthdays for good luck, long life, and to honor their mothers. Women who have just given birth also have the soup as it is rich in minerals and nutrients. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in South Korea?

  • South Koreans treasure children, and family is very important. They teach kids to respect parents and elders. It is a custom for kids and adults to take their shoes off when they enter the home.
  • Many parents have high expectations for their kids' education. Middle and high school kids have long days at school that last from 8 am until 5 pm, and then they may have extra school, tutoring, and homework until 10 pm or later.
  • Computer games are extremely popular with South Korean kids. However, they may also play some traditional games. One game is "gonggi" (KON-chee). It is similar to "jacks" but played with small genuine or plastic stones. One of the tricks is to land the stone on the back of your hand after picking it up and throwing it in the air. Another game is "jegichagi," played alone or with other players by kicking a paper "jegi" (like a badminton shuttlecock) in the air and trying to keep it aloft.
  • Some of the sports kids participate in are football (soccer), baseball, golf, skiing, ice skating, and taekwondo, a martial art. In addition, they like music, especially K-pop music (Korean pop).
  • Children learn "nunchi" (noon-chee) by three years old. The literal translation is "eye-measure" and could also be called emotional intelligence. Kids learn to be aware of their environment, observe people and situations, quickly discern another person's mood, read a situation correctly, and respond accordingly. Nunchi helps a person navigate their world in a caring and intelligent way throughout their life. 
  • Kids have rice with just about every meal. They will eat it with eggs, fish, or another protein for breakfast. They may have "ramyeon," which is like "ramen," a Japanese noodle soup, or more rice and protein for lunch. Desserts made with sweet rice or red beans are popular. For example, kids may have "bingsu," shaved ice often topped with sweet red beans and sweetened condensed milk, or "bungeo-ppang," a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweetened red bean paste, pastry cream, or chocolate and cooked like a waffle.

THYME for a Laugh

"Doctor, doctor, I’ve got carrots growing out of my ears! How did that happen?"

"I don’t know, I planted cucumbers there!"

The Yolk's On You

What’s green and very noisy? 

A cucumber playing a drum!

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