While I was in Cheonan over the Chuseok holidays, my mom taught me this really simple cucumber banchan recipe using only a few ingredients. I actually don’t like cucumbers that much, but this is quickly becoming one of my favorite side dishes. I think most people are used to eating cucumbers either pickled as a side to a sandwich or burger, or maybe fresh and raw in chopped salads, but this is a good way to eat them cooked. It might sound a bit gross (cooked cucumbers?!), but I’ll just say don’t knock it til you try it. This is a delicious side dish that is light and healthy, and even though they’re cooked, the cucumbers still retain their awesome crunchiness. If you try this once, you can use this method to add extra crunch to all kinds of other recipes!
So here’s what you need. Feel free to double/triple this recipe.
1/2 tsp coarse salt (use less if using regular table salt)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed sesame seeds
handful of chopped scallions
The first thing to do is wash your cucumber and gently shave off any rough spikes along the skin. Don’t peel all the skin off or you’ll lose all the good crunchy texture. Next, slice your cucumber into very slender round disks. Ideally, you would use a mandolin slicer to get them uniformly thin, but you can also just use a knife. Just try to get them as thin as possible.
After 10 minutes, take handfuls of the cucumber and squeeze the excess water out. A surprising amount of water will come out but try not to squeeze too tightly or the cucumber slices will break apart. :)
In a non-stick frying pan, heat up some olive oil on medium heat. Once it is heated, add the cucumber slices and toss until it becomes cooked through (about 5 minutes). Add some crushed sesame seeds and toss some more. If you don’t have sesame seeds, a few drops of sesame oil will also work.
Plate up and serve! This can be stored in the fridge for a few days and will also be delicious served cold. This recipe only uses a few ingredients, but feel free to add other things while sauteeing, like crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper, or chopped onions to make it even more amazing. :)