Spiral Cucumber Salad: A Korean-Inspired Side You Need to Try
This spiral cucumber salad is a Korean-inspired side dish you need to try! The accordion shape is not only fun but gives it extra texture and holds all the seasonings perfectly!
What Is a Spiral Cucumber Salad?
This spiral cucumber salad recipe is inspired by the Korean cucumber banchan known as 오이무침 or oi muchim.
Banchan are small side dishes that are served alongside Korean meals. Every time I go to a Korean restaurant, I always find myself asking for refills of the cucumber banchan.
Oi muchim is so refreshing and has a ton of flavor. It is spicy, a little sweet, salty, and tart. It hits all the taste buds!
The spiral cucumber shape is viral on TikTok and has taken social media by storm. In my opinion, it is completely worth the hype.
The accordion-like shape is not only fun but it adds extra texture and all the spiral crevices hold the seasonings perfectly.
Ingredients for Spiral Cucumber Salad
To create this super flavorful Korean-inspired cucumber salad, you’ll need the following ingredients:
My favorite to use for this recipe are mini seedless cucumbers – specifically the Sunset Grown cucumbers from Costco.
It’s the perfect snack size, has a light, mild taste, and it’s nice and crunchy. Persian cucumbers are a good substitute.
I do not recommend using bigger cucumber varieties because the spiral will stretch too long. I think the bite-sized nature of mini cucumbers make it more fun to eat too!
Additionally larger cucumbers tend to have higher water content which makes them more likely to turn limp and soggy when adding a wet dressing to it.
Salt has two purposes in this recipe. Not only is it used for seasoning but also to draw excess water out of the cucumbers. More on this later.
Green onions add the perfect amount of subtle onion flavor and doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
Korean chili flakes are also known as gochugaru. It is an essential spice in Korean cuisine.
Gochugaru has a vibrant red color and is a mild chili. It has a nice balance of heat and a slight sweetness.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find it at a regular grocery store from brands such as McCormick Spice.
You can substitute this with crushed red pepper or your favorite chili flakes. The measurements may vary based on your spice preference.
Rice vinegar is tangy and sweet without being too acidic. It works well with the other ingredients to enhance and balance out the flavors.
I use Marukan Seasoned Gourmet Rice Vinegar.
I’m a firm believer that garlic makes everything better. Raw minced garlic adds a subtle yet essential kick and a bit of pungency.
Sesame oil has a rich and nutty aroma. It is a key finishing touch for many Korean dishes.
A little sweetness to contrast the salt and spice in this dish.
I use white sugar but you can substitute for your favorite sweetener such as brown sugar or honey.
These little seeds add extra texture with a subtle but satisfying crunch and nutty flavor.
How to Make Spiral Cucumber Salad
This spiral cucumber salad is truly so easy to make and can be done in just 20 minutes.
Once you try cutting your cucumbers like this, you won’t want to eat cucumbers any other way!
The satisfying crunchy texture along with the dressing, turns this side dish into the main character.
Let’s walk through this recipe step-by-step so you can see how easy it is!
As always a recipe card is included at the end that you can print out, pin to Pinterest, and save it for later.
Step 1: How to Cut Accordion Spiral Cucumbers
To cut the cucumbers into the accordion spiral shape, you’ll need a pair of chopsticks, knife, and cutting board.
I recommend using chopsticks that have flat edges so they don’t roll around as you cut. The chopsticks are there to help prevent you from cutting all the way through the cucumber.
Place the cucumbers one at a time in between the pair of chopsticks. The cucumber should be touching the cutting board.
Next, make even diagonal slices at a 45° angle across the cucumber.
Then flip over the cucumber to expose the uncut side. Make straight slices on this side at a 90° angle evenly across the cucumber.
Repeat this for all the cucumbers to create those pretty spirals. These cuts are simple to make but have super cool results!
It transforms a boring cucumber into an accordion or slinky like shape. It’s like making edible arts and crafts.
Not only is it fun to play with but this shape gives cucumbers even more texture and crunch.
The spirals also create a lot of little crevices that hold on to the seasoning and dressing perfectly!
Step 2: How to Keep Spiral Cucumbers Crunchy
The secret to keeping cucumbers crunchy even when you coat it in a wet dressing or liquids, is to salt them.
After the cucumbers are cut into spirals, cover them in salt in a mixing bowl. Mix to evenly coat and let it sit and sweat for 15 minutes.
This process is called osmosis. Cucumbers are approximately 96% water so adding salt helps to draw out some of that water.
The results are a drier cucumber that is more crisp and crunchy. This is especially important because we will be covering it in a wet dressing.
Skipping this step will make the cucumbers soft, limp, and watery in the salad. Plus salt adds extra flavor!
After it has sweat for 15 minutes, rinse off the excess salt under cold water.
Some salt may still be on the cucumber or absorbed into it but this is perfectly fine as it adds just the right amount of saltiness to the dish.
Give the cucumbers a quick pat down with a towel to dry before we move on to the next step.
Step 3: How to Make the Spiral Cucumber Salad Dressing
To make the dressing, simply combine the remaining ingredients.
In the same mixing bowl with the cucumbers, add garlic, green onions, rice vinegar, Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), sesame oil, sugar, and sesame seeds.
Mix well to make sure the seasonings get into all the nooks and crannies of the spiraled cucumber.
Make sure to also mix gently so that you don’t break the spirals.
Step 4: How to Serve & Enjoy Spiral Cucumber Salad
Finally, taste test and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Add more salt if needed.
I like to eat this right away when the cucumbers are at it’s crunchiest. It’s refreshing, light, spicy, sweet, sour, salty – all the flavors!
This is the perfect side dish for Korean meals like Korean bbq nights. It balances out the heaviness of the meats and adds a brightness to any meal.
Spicy cucumber salad also makes for a great snack on its own, especially during the summer. You don’t need to turn on the stove to make this.
This dish is vegan and vegetarian friendly, low carb, and gluten free!
Leftovers & Storage
This dish absolutely keeps well as leftovers! To me it almost turns into a new side dish. The cucumber salad will become more of a marinated cucumber or like a cucumber kimchi.
Place any leftovers into a sealed container and store in the fridge. I recommend keeping them no longer than 4 days.
Although it won’t be as crunchy as if you eat it immediately, it will still be delicious!
The cucumber will be softer but still have a crunch.
However, the best part is that the dressing has more time to soak into the cucumbers.
The resulting leftover cucumbers will be bursting with even more flavor!
Save This Recipe!
These spiral cucumbers are so fun to eat and are equally delicious!
I hope you try to recreate this recipe at home and remember it’s ok to play with your food!
Did you make this recipe? I would love to see! Tag me on IG @feedmi_ or TikTok @feedmi
Spiral Cucumber Salad: Korean-Inspired Recipe
- 10 mini cucumbers
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 2 tbs gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 3 tbs rice vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbs sesame seeds
- Place a cucumber in between a pair of chopsticks to keep the cuts from going all the through. Make diagonal cuts on one side of the cucumber, then flip, and make straight cuts on the other side. Repeat until all the cucumbers are cut into spirals.
- Add the cut cucumbers into a bowl. Sprinkle salt all over and toss to evenly coat to draw out the excess moister. Let it sit for 15 minutes then drain and rinse off the salt. Pat the cucumbers dry with a towel.
- In the mixing bowl with the cucumbers, add garlic, green onions, rice vinegar, gochugaru, sesame oil, sugar, and sesame seeds. Mix well and gently so the spirals don't break. Make sure the seasonings get into all the crevices.
- Taste test, adjust to your liking, and enjoy!