Korean tables—both in restaurants and at home—are always set with a series of banchan, or little dishes that can be eaten alone, with rice, or as an accompaniment to the main course. To keep things lively, banchan should run the gamut of tastes and textures, and this particular pickle really sparkles: It is sweet, tart, crisp, and fresh. Salting the sliced cucumbers and then squeezing out their excess water allows them to fully soak up the pickling mixture.
1/2 pound Japanese or Kirby cucumbers
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 Fuji or Granny Smith apple
2 cups water
1/3 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned) or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon very thin matchsticks of peeled ginger
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of Korean hot red-pepper threads (optional)
Slice cucumbers crosswise 1/8 inch thick and toss with sea salt. Let stand 30 minutes, then rinse well and squeeze out excess liquid with your hands.
Halve apple half lengthwise and cut out core. Slice crosswise 1/8 inch thick.
Toss apple with cucumbers and remaining ingredients and marinate, chilled, turning occasionally, at least 1 day.
Cooks' note: Pickles keep, chilled, 3 days.
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