Aug 20, 2017
This is not your ordinary cucumber pickles! Oiji
(오이지), Korean cucumber pickles, is fermented simply in salt water. It is an age-old technique to preserve cucumbers beyond their growing season. No canning and no acidic liquid is used! During fermentation, a deep tangy flavor develops, the color turns golden yellow, and the texture becomes crunchy and slightly chewy.
My mother's generation used to pickle a large earthenware (hangahri, 항아리) full of cucumbers (100 or more) in early summer to consume throughout the summer and until the next growing season. Many households still do. Oiji is a humble but essential food item in Korea.
These days, commercially prepared oiji is also available in the deli section of Korean markets. That's an option if you don't get to make your own.
Korean cucumbers are light in color, slender, and bumpy with thin skin. They are still available in Korean markets around here. Use kirby pickling cucumbers if you can't find Korean cucumbers. Look for the freshest ones that are thin and small.