Korean sauteed cucumber namul

Stir-fried Cucumbers (Oyi Namul)

Cucumbers are slightly pickled before being stir-fried, giving them a wonderfully crunchy and chewy texture. And the raw cucumber taste is nicely smoothed out by the cooking process.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Korean
Keyword gluten free, mild, sauteed, simple, summer
KoreanCategory Namul (나물)
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 148kcal
Author JinJoo Lee


  • 1 cucumber (Korean, English or Persian)
  • 1 tsp sea salt for pickling (per 1 cup of sliced cucumbers)
  • 2 Tbs Korean seasoned ground beef (optional)

Quick recipe for Korean seasoned ground beef:

  • 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (Kikkoman)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp rice cooking wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper


  • Cut the cucumbers into 1/8 inch thick slices. I usually don’t emphasize the thickness but it’s kind of important here because how well the cucumbers pickle will depend on the correct thickness. Too thin, and it will actually rip apart when you squeeze it later. Too thick, and it will take a long time to pickle. And try to cut with even thickness throughout so they all pickle evenly.
  • Put the sliced cucumbers in a bowl. Sprinkle the sea salt and toss the cucumbers to make sure the salt is evenly distributed. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes until the cucumbers are easily bendable without breaking.
  • You can reheat the leftover already cooked, seasoned ground beef in a pan on medium heat. If you don’t have any leftovers, just season some ground beef (use my recipe above) and stir fry it in a pan on medium high heat until the beef is all cooked.
  • If you like mushrooms, you can also add some sliced mushrooms to the ground beef. When the beef is nice and hot, turn the heat off and let it wait until you get the cucumber ready.
  • Squeeze out excess water from the cucumbers. You can just take a handful in your hands and squeeze the water out as much as you can (the more you squeeze the liquid out, the crisper the cucumbers will be). You can also use a cheese cloth to wring out the liquid.
  • Put the cucumbers in the cheese cloth and wrap it into a ball. Hold one end with your left hand and the ball shaped end with your right hand (if you are right handed) and twist the liquid out (like you wring out water from your clothes).
  • Add these squeezed, pickled cucumbers into the pan and stir fry the beef and the cucumbers together for 2 min or so on medium high heat. You don’t want to cook the cucumbers too long. Just long enough for them to lose their raw taste. Sprinkle some crushed roasted sesame seeds and serve.


  • Please note that the prep and cooking time is for assuming you have the beef already cooked.
  • Having the right kind of cucumber and using good quality sea salt is really is the key here. The best kind of cucumber is Korean (of course) and then English or Persian. Choose ones with as little wax on the skin as possible (using the skin adds additional texture) with the skin not being too tough or thick. If the skin is tough, that means the cucumber is too mature which often leaves a bitter taste in your mouth – which is not good. If you can’t buy any of this variety, small pickling cucumbers will also work. If the skin is still too tough, peel the skin before you use it.
  • Oyi namul tastes great at room temperature so it’s another great side dish or banchan for doshirak. You should store it in the fridge because of the beef and it will keep well for days. Another way to eat the oyi namul is to make bibimbap out of it. Just mix some rice and the oyi namul with some gochujang and sesame oil and it will be another simple and quick meal.


Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 232mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Vitamin C: 2.3mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1.1mg