Need some cucumber inspiration? Try Sunomono or Japanese Cucumber Salad. Marinated in vinegar, sugar, salt and ginger, this sweet & sour cucumber salad makes a perfect side dish. It’s light, healthy and incredibly refreshing!
When cucumbers are at their peak in gardens and markets, we often find a few lingering around at the kitchen counter. If you are in need of some cucumber inspiration today, today’s recipe is Sunomono, a refreshing Japanese cucumber salad that I often make at home. One of the most popular appetizers at the dinner tables in Japan, Sunomono (or Cucumber Salad) is simple and very easy to prepare in a short time.
What is Sunomono (酢の物) ?
Sunomono refers to vinegar-based dishes, and they commonly served as side dishes to the main meals. ”Su” means vinegar in Japanese. We have a large variety of appetizers using vinegar and cucumber, such as Tako Su (Octopus Salad) I shared before. These light refreshing vinegar salads are a great start to any meal as the sourness from the vinegar helps whet your appetite.
There are a lot of different kinds of cucumbers out there, but I like using Japanese cucumbers for their crunchiness and seedless texture. If you couldn’t find Japanese cucumber, you can use English or Persian cucumbers.
For this salad recipe, salting the cucumber is an important step. It helps to remove excess liquid from the cucumber, which in turn yields a great crunch for the salad. I often add in wakame (sea kelp) for layer of texture and its many beneficial nutrients.
Tossed in nothing more but a simple combination of rice vinegar, dashi, sugar, soy sauce and a tiny drop of sesame oil, the flavor of Sunomono is the perfect balance of sweet and sour. To top it off, you can garnish with some julienned ginger slices to give the salad extra zip.
During the heat of summer and our bodies naturally gravitate towards ‘cooling’ food, this Japanese Cucumber Salad makes a wonderful seasonal side dish especially for grilled fish or meat. Besides the fact that it’s so easy to whip up, the salad is tangy, crunchy and its health benefits are good enough reasons to enjoy on weekly basis. I hope you enjoy!
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- 1 Tbsp wakame (seaweed)
- ½ English cucumber (or 1 Japanese cucumber)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp ginger (julienned, optional)
Soak wakame in water for 10 minutes to rehydrate. Drain well and transfer to a bowl.
Alternately peel a ½-inch-side strip lengthwise, leaving a strip of the skin intact. With this method, the cucumber slices have some decorative dark green accents and a little bit of extra crunchiness. Cut the cucumbers into thinly slices, about 1/8-inch thickness (or even thinner!).
Sprinkle the cucumber slices with salt and massage them. Let stand for a few minutes and squeeze out excess water from cucumber. Transfer to the bowl from Step 1.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Set aside to cool.
Before serving, pour the dressing over cucumber slices and wakame and mix well together. Serve in individual dishes and garnish with ginger on top.
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.
Editor’s Note: Photos updated in November 2013