This dish can be eaten the day it's made or left to ferment slightly at room temperature overnight for a deeper flavor and softer texture.
- 1 1⁄4 lb. thin, firm cucumbers, preferably Japanese or Kirby, rounded ends trimmed off, cut crosswise into 1 1/2" lengths
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 3 tbsp. Korean chile powder
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. finely chopped Korean salted shrimp
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped carrot
- 1 tbsp. Korean anchovy sauce (aek jeot) or Southeast Asian fish sauce
- 2 tsp. sesame seeds
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 30 Korean chives or garlic chives cut into 1" pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped and mashed into a paste
- 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced diagonally
- 1 (1") piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped, and mashed 1/4 Asian pear, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. pine nuts
Working with 1 cucumber piece at a time, stand piece on its end and make 1 deep vertical cut roughly three-quarters of the way to the bottom; make another, identical cut perpendicular to the first one to form a cross-shaped opening. Transfer cucumber pieces cut side up to a large bowl. Sprinkle salt over the cucumbers, gently working some of the salt into the openings; let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse cucumbers and pat dry; set aside.
In a medium bowl, vigorously stir together the remaining ingredients, except for the pine nuts, to make the filling. Working with 1 cucumber piece at a time, stuff about 2 tsp. of the filling into the opening. Press 3 or 4 pine nuts into the stuffing of each cucumber. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately, or allow cucumbers to ferment: nestle cucumber pieces, stuffed side up, in a plastic container; cover and let sit for 1 day at room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. Cucumbers will continue to soften and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.