Cooked Cucumber Recipe using overgrown, over ripe cucumbers aka Nogak in Korean.
This cooked cucumber recipe makes otherwise unpalatable cucumbers totally delicious! Also often served as Temple Food in Korea.
Cooked cucumber recipe is probably not a common concept for some but it is a common dish called Nogak Namul 노각 나물 in the Korean country side. I know I may be a bit late for those of you in the east coast but here in California, my cucumber plant is still growing fruit. You can make this cooked cucumber dish with either regular or yellow overgrown cucumbers and you can use any kind of cucumbers, not just English or Korean.
This is a wonderful recipe for vegetable gardeners — when you leave a cucumber on the vine for a long time, past its peak harvest time, it will grow too big, turn yellow with the skin turning really tough and the flesh tasting bitter. I didn’t have any yellow cucumbers but I did have one that grew way too big and knew it was getting to be tough and bitter… so I decided to make this cooked cucumber dish with it.
BTW, if you want a different Korean cucumber recipe, here are some others:
In case you are wondering, this year, I planted some Korean Aehobak 애호박 (Korean Zucchini) and English cucumbers. For some reason last year my zucchini and cucumbers never took off but this year they just went crazy!! I think watering more deeply definitely made a big difference.
But I am SAD that my Kabocha Squash plant never had the chance to grow any fruit — because the &*%!@ squirrels ate each one of my squash fruits!!! Even before they had a chance to grow!!!
I HATE SQUIRRELS!!! Arrrrrgghh….at least leave me one….. 😭😭
Now, the summer is coming to an end…sad sad… but of course, there are sadder things in this world. I know…😝 😝
Anyway, if you have grown cucumbers, you know that you are bound to end up with a couple of cucumbers that somehow stayed hidden from you until they have become a GIANT cucumber by the time you discover it!! Here are some regular sized English cucumbers at the bottom but the top right one has totally overgrown and started to become yellow and tough.
Until it is full of hard seeds like this one –
Koreans call this kind of overgrown or old cucumber as Nogak 노각 or Neulkeun Oyi 늙은 오이 Neulkeun Oyi. There are mainly two Korean recipes for Nogak. Nogak Namul (the one I am sharing here) and then Nogak Muchim – which is cucumber tossed in gochujang sauce.
Finally, this cooked cucumber is naturally vegan, gluten free, full of fiber and high in vitamin C.
About Perilla Oil (Deul Gireum 들기름)
Many Korean namul (vegetable or herb side dishes) including this cooked cucumbers are made with perilla oil or deul gireum which is NOT the same thing as sesame oil. I have talked about perilla seeds before but basically it is stronger in fragrance than sesame oil and while sesame oil has a very nutty flavor and smell, perilla oil has a minty/fennel kind of fragrance much like its leaves.
Cooked Cucumber Recipe (Korean Nogak Namul)
Servings: 2-3 Cooking Time: Difficulty: EASY
- 1 cucumber, old overgrown or regular
- 1 green onion, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbs perilla oil (deul gireum 들기름)
- 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
- 4 Tbs water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- pinch perilla seeds (optional)
- Peel cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds from the center.
- Slice cucumber into thin slices. Chop garlic and onions.
- Heat 2 Tbs perilla oil in frying pan on medium high.
- Add cucumbers, garlic and green onions.
- Sauté on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add 4 Tbs water to pan and continue cooking (2 min or so).
- Until most of the water is gone and look like this.
- Optionally, garnish with some more chopped green onions and perilla seeds.
- Serve warm or cold as side dish.
Cooked cucumber recipe or Korean Nogak Namul is a simple and delicious way to eat your old, overgrown, over ripe cucumbers. Regular cucumbers can also be used instead.
- 1 cucumber old overgrown or regular
- 1 green onion roughly chopped
- 2 Tbs perilla oil deul gireum 들기름
- 1 tsp garlic finely chopped
- 4 Tbs water
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt (Trader Joe's)
- pinch perilla seeds optional
Peel cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds from the center.
Slice cucumber into thin slices.
Chop garlic and green onions.
Heat 2 Tbs perilla oil in frying pan on medium high.
Add cucumbers, garlic and green onions.
Sauté on medium heat for 3 minutes.
Add 4 Tbs water to pan and continue cooking (2 min or so) until most of the water is gone.
Serve warm or cold as side dish.
Garnish with chopped green onions and perilla seeds (deulkkae 들깨). Serve warm or cold as side dish. Refrigerate leftovers.
Variations and Tips
- Because cucumbers come in all different sizes, please adjust the salt to your taste. I made it more on the less salty side so please add more if you need to.
- There’s another way to eat overgrown, old cucumbers – Nogak Muchim. Just salt cucumbers for couple minutes, squeeze excess liquid then toss in some gochujang, vinegar, sugar and garlic.
- Substitute sesame oil if you can’t get perilla oil. But if you like Perilla leaves, I recommend you try perilla oil because it makes a huge difference!