Japanese Cucumber Salad きゅうりとワカメの酢の物

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Japanese Cucumber Salad | JustOneCookbook.com

Before I talk about today’s post, for those of you on the east coast of the US, I hope the storm isn’t impacting your life too much and please stay safe.

I also want to say Congratulations to San Francisco Giants, World Series Champions!!  Whoo hoo! :)  They had an amazing playoff run coming back from the brink of being eliminated twice and sweeping the Detroit Tigers to win it all.

Now on to today’s recipe, Japanese Cucumber Salad.  As you might know, the typical Japanese meal consists of one main dish of meat or seafood with rice and miso soup, complemented with several side dishes.  This easy salad is one of the side dishes that I prepare often.

Japanese Cucumber Salad | JustOneCookbook.com

In Japan, this type of side dish/salad is called Sunomono (酢の物), literal translation “vinegar food”.  The most typical sunomono includes thinly sliced cucumber and wakame seaweed dressed in rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.  The crunch of a crisp cucumber matches really well with the soft wakame seaweed in a delicious tangy vinegar dressing.

For today’s recipe, I added crab sticks to add red color but it’s completely optional and you can enjoy it as a vegetarian dish without the crab sticks.  The Japanese believe vinegar is an important part of our diet due to its many benefits such as controlling blood sugar level.  You can find out more information on Vinegar here.  Growing up my mom made sure we have different kinds of side dishes include sunomono during meal time.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Japanese Cucumber Salad | JustOneCookbook.com

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Japanese Cucumber Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3-4
  1. If you are using Japanese cucumber, this step called “Itazuri” is necessary. Wash the cucumber and sprinkle salt. With both hands, rub the cucumber against the cutting board. It removes the pointy bumps on the cucumber and it helps absorb the dressing.
  2. Peel the cucumber and slice into thin slices.
  3. Sprinkle salt and rub the cucumber each other gently with hands. After cucumber is wilted (about 5 minutes), wash the cucumber under cold water. Squeeze the cucumber to get rid of water.
  4. Put dried wakame in a small bowl and soak in water. After 10 minutes, squeeze dry to get rid of water.
  5. Cut the crab sticks in half.
  6. In a small saucepan, combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Heat until sugar is all dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. In a large bowl, combine cucumber, wakame, and crab sticks. Pour the dressing over and mix together. Sprinkle sesame seeds and enjoy at room temperature or chilled.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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  1. I love this salad with the crab sticks. I’ve bought them before, but never thought of anything other than a California roll to use them for. And of course, as always, your photos are stunning! I hope you have a great week!

  2. I always enjoyed your post going thru the tutorial photos! I think I should start eating this type of salad if I want to cut down my cholesterol level. Japanese cucumbers are more crunchy in texture than our local ones. These little beautiful bowls must be from your mom.

  3. Nami, my ten-year-old who celebrated her birthday yesterday is the premium cucumber salad eater in our house – she also adores Asian dressings and a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top. So this salad of yours reminds me of the one I often prepare for her (and the rest of the gang) but your version with crab looks much more pleasing to the eye and it does sound delicious, so I will adjust my recipe and try it your way instead!

    P.S.: I also wanted to thank you for all your lovely comments and mails – I really love receiving them. And since Thursday is a Holiday around here, I am taking the kids to my favorite Asian market to a “shopping spree” so that I can finally try out more of your wonderful recipes! I am looking forward to that!

  4. Grubarazzi

    I love this salad! It’s a fab of mine. Makes me wish I had cucumbers in the house. With Sandy on the way maybe I’ll just have to wait!

  5. Yum! good and healthy. I adore cucumber salad, I usually make tzaziki, which is a mainstay over summer. This looks really refreshing, Nami, and great pic too.

  6. I’ll try this recipe, sounds delicious! I have only had Sunomono in restaurants and my son is a huge fan of this dish. I’m glad that now I can make it at home with your recipe. Thanks for sharing, Nami!

  7. Really elaborate/complex recipe, sounds very delicious. I recently tried a simpler version at a friends place. It was made with vinegar, sugar, water and dill. The cucumber takes on a really nice texture and flavour.

  8. It’s like a pickled salad. YUM!! I recently made cucumber pickles so this looks perfect for me. :)

    As an East Coaster… we are getting pounded by rain right now… I hope it goes away faster than expected. Thanks for the well wishes. :)

  9. A crunchy side salad sounds like an appealing complement. Interesting note on the health benefits of vinegar, too. Maybe that’s why my Grandma served pickles with every meal! :)

  10. I would love this as a side. One thing I am funny about sides, I don’t like sweet baked beans, or potato salad (I never liked cold potatoes ever since I was a kid) not big on the seven bean salad or coleslaw, I guess I not your typical American! :)

  11. Candice

    Another great & easy recipe, Nami! I love cucumber and didn’t realize that dish cucumber salad is so easy to make. I think the only difficult ingredient I may have trouble with is the dashi stock (making it from scratch).

    Do you know if they sell dashi packets at 99 Ranch?

    • Hi Candice! I doubt 99 Ranch has dashi packet… but Chinese supermarket Marina in San Mateo has it and a little cheaper than Japanese supermarket. :)

      If you don’t make miso soup, you can use dashi powder (there are MSG-free dashi powder) for small amount of dashi stock we need for dishes like this.

      I usually make miso soup so I scoop up 2 Tbsp. of dashi stock for this dish before putting miso etc.

      Hope this helps! :)

    • Lol! I used to enjoy real crab too until I became allergic – so sad! There are other alternatives to add red color (tomatoes?) in this dish for those who don’t like crab sticks. Or eat it like traditional cucumber salad with just cucumber and wakame. :)

  12. Linda | The Urban Mrs

    Delicious and fresh! That’s my first impression of this post. I never knew that we can use salt and rub against the cutting board. What we normally do is cut the tip and rub against one another to remove the bitterness. Now I can’t stop thinking of having this with salmon. :)

  13. Kit

    Oh how I miss Japanese cucumbers. They are much more expensive over here so I stick with the English ones. I can’t eat the regular ones since they are so tough. Looks like a simple but yummy recipe. Will definitely give it a try.

    • Hi Kit – yeah here too it’s pretty pricey. I usually buy English cucumbers because its texture is very similar to Japanese cucumbers. Thanks for your kind comment and hope you will enjoy this recipe! :)

  14. One of the easiest recipe ever. I think it will fit my South beach diet requirement. Will try it soon Nami. I love the way you chop your veggies – so slender and thin.

  15. What a delicious salad! I’ll take this any day whether as a side or even a main dish. You combined the flavors so well. As always, enjoyed the step by step process. I will try this soon as the weather gets better here in the east coast and I can go to the markets. Thanks for the kind wishes & the great recipe, Nami! Happy Mon. :-)

  16. Eha

    One of my favourite Japanese vinegary dishes, ’cause have always loved cucumber! Appetizing photo too! Don’t exactly know what is meant by ‘Japanese’ cucumber: but it looks very similar to what we call ‘Lebanese’ cuc here? :) !

  17. Go San Francisco! :) Thank you for teaching me how to make this salad the right way! I make a very simple cucumber salad which is good but I’ve always felt something was missing. Yep – I was right – no dashi, no sesame seeds and no crab which I bet is an excellent addition!!! I love this salad my dear!!!

  18. Finally I made it to your blog. I saw this in my email box and already knew that I will love this recipe. Very delicious pictures as always, Nami! I have in my fridge Japanese cucumbers which are much smaller than the Eng. cucumbers, but you gave us great alternative. Can’t wait to try this! Have a great week!!!!!

  19. we lived in south korea for a while, and they also prepare side dishes to go with their meals. it made for such beautiful food, and such a healthy variety of things available. i haven’t had this salad before, but it reminds me of that sort of thing, and i can’t wait to try it. it’s food that is good for your whole body.

  20. So delicious! I love sunomono! So nice that my kids are starting to like pickled/fermented foods now, slowly. I think it’s good for their health to have some vinegar too.

  21. We call those Surimi in France, the crab sticks. you get crab, prawns fish, pretty much all types. Unfortunately its so rare in Austria and in India I can forget even of thinking that they might sell it somewhere. Love Love Love those! So addictive in a salad.

  22. Nami, this looks fantastic. I love a fresh, flavorful salad like this, could probably just eat this for a whole meal. Thanks for all the great tips too, I never heard of that salt trick but it looks like it works great!

  23. I love cucumbers and Asian cucumber salads to me are just delicious, all kinds, i especially like cucumber kimchi, i love the acidity with cucumber, remind me of my childhood eating Polish cucumber salad. Just fabulous. I love your in action photo’s too :)

  24. Nami, you are the only one who is able to make humble crab sticks look so marvellous! I love this salad and it reminds me of your cucumber and seaweed salad I have made several times (and posted too). I remember it was delicious, so I will try this enriched version soon, especially since I constantly have crab sticks in the fridge.

  25. Cucumber salad, be it Chinese or Polish variety is one of the most refreshing things in the world and one of my faves, and now thanks to your recipe I can enjoy a Japanese version as well. I see this in my lunch box in the near future…

  26. I love vinegar :) I actually take a shot of vinegar at least a couple of times a week but I can be a bit extreme. So if I used English cucumber would I not have to worry doing the rubbing on the cutting board part?

    • English cucumbers don’t have the pointy bumps like Japanese cucumbers. It’s pretty pointy that you won’t miss it. There are no bumps on English or Persian cucumber that I know of… :)

  27. I can eat an entire bowl full of cucumber salad. Never seen crab sticks added to it but I like the idea, too.

    I put vinegar/lemon in almost everything I eat. I really do believe that there are certain health benefits to the condiments we eat alongside our meals. Plus, it would be so boring not to have all those other options. :)

  28. OMG OMG OMG Nami :) This is my FAVOURITE type of SALAD ~ I order it whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant and I can’t seem to get enough of it! I’m not sure if it’s the crack sticks or the dressing but it’s addictive…but then i realised the one i have usually has a Kewpie dressing is that a different salad? :)

  29. You must be so thrilled that your hometown won the world series!

    Now about this salad – I love the simplicity of it and it involves one of my favorite things ever – crab sticks! When my mom used to make me california rolls, I would steal all the crab sticks and eat it by itself and she’d get really mad!

  30. I love this cucumber salad and that Dashi stock sounds fantastic!!I love crab sticks but haven’t used them that much!This sounds like a good recipe to try :)

  31. Lovely looking salad Nami – I love everything which has “mono” in the title. It’s a sure sign of crunchy, fresh, tastiness! I think I’d skip the crab sticks – can’t stand the things – but the salad looks wonderful besides that – so fresh and crisp.

  32. Steven

    Hi, I am the only one in the house that likes food like this, so I have to cook for myself. I see that this makes a lot of servings. Should I refrigerate the dressing from the rest of the ingredients? How long would it last do you think? Thanks!

    • Hi Steven!

      The dressing will last about 3 days, so either you make half of the recipe portion or keep the dressing separate and mix it right before you eat it (so it doesn’t become like pickled dish).

      Hope this helps!

    • Hi Erin! I think I know what you are asking about. When I bought some brands (usually non Japanese brands), the crab sticks don’t separate like how Japanese crab sticks do… It just won’t get “shredded” and it becomes more like pieces. If you don’t mind the shape, that’s okay too. But I looove the texture of long thin shredded crab sticks. :) Hope you can find Japanese brand – they usually come in smaller packages like one I showed in the recipe, not in a huge bulk. Hope that helps! :)

      • Erin

        Makes perfect sense…thank you so much! I love the texture of the shreds too so I’ll find a Japanese brand. I’ve tried several of your recipes and I LOVE them all, my girls are obsessed with the Soba Salad :) Thanks again!!!!!

        • Hi Erin! Aww so nice to hear you tried some of my recipes! 😀 So happy to hear your daughters enjoyed the soba salad too. :) Thank you again for writing! xo

  33. BI

    Dear Nami,
    Can i make a batch of the cucumber salad and keep in the fridge? How long I can keep it in the refrigerator? Thanks.

    • Hi BI! Sure you can, but please consider that thinly sliced cucumber will absorb flavor easily and they will become more like pickles (will become more softer too). So I’d suggest to keep it separate until 1-2 hours before serving or so. Hope this helps! :)