Sunomono Salad (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

By: MeganPosted: 14/04/2024 Updated: 14/04/2024
Prep 10 minutes
Sunomono salad or Japanese cucumber salad is a refreshing appetizer or side dish made with crisp, thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers marinated in a sweet, tangy vinegar based dressing.
Sunomono Salad (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

This healthy Japanese salad is a quick recipe you can easily throw together in just a few minutes! You can serve this cucumber salad as an appetizer, a snack, or a side dish. Pair this sunomono salad with oyakodon, Katsu curry, or yaki udon for a well-balanced meal.

A pair of chopsticks holding up pieces of a Japanese cucumber salad.

What is sunomono?

Sunomono (酢の物) is a traditional Japanese side dish or appetizer made with cucumbers tossed in a sweet and tangy rice vinegar-based dressing. The name “sunomono” translates to vinegared things” in Japanese. A traditional sunomono salad is made with Japanese cucumbers that have a mild, bright, and semi-sweet flavor. They are also less watery than other cucumber varieties making them ideal for cucumber salads.

The cucumbers are thinly sliced, drained, and tossed in rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame seed dressing. This Japanese salad has a tangy and slightly sweet flavor with a crisp, refreshing bite.

A plate of sunomono salad.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this sunomono recipe at your local Asian or Japanese grocery market. I have linked everything that I used for you below.

Japanese cucumbers and salt labeled.
  • Japanese cucumbers: Japanese cucumbers are ideal, but you can also use Persian cucumbers if you cannot find them in stores.
  • Salt: salt extracts the water from the cucumbers which concentrates the flavor and makes the Japanese cucumbers crunchier and less watery.
  • Rice vinegar: rice vinegar has a mild, sweet flavor with a touch of acidity. It creates a less acidic taste than white distilled vinegar which is ideal for this cucumber salad.
  • Sugar: granulated sugar sweetens the sunomono salad.
  • Soy sauce: soy sauce adds a hint of salty umami flavor that balances out the acidity in the rice vinegar.
  • Sesame seeds: toasted sesame seeds add another layer of crunchy and soft nutty flavor.
All the ingredients for sunomono salad dressing organized and labeled.

Substitutions and Additions

You can easily customize your Japanese cucumber salad recipe based on your preferences. I have listed some suggestions for substitutions and additions for you below.

Substitutions

  • Persian cucumbers: Persian cucumbers are a good substitute for Japanese cucumbers.
  • Vinegar: alternative kinds of vinegar include apple cider, white wine, champagne, or mirin. However, the flavor will be different and you may need to adjust the other ingredients as needed.
  • Sweetener: instead of sugar, you can use honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar.

Additions

  • Dried wakame seaweed: you can always add rehydrated dried wakame seaweed pieces for more texture and umami flavor.
  • Seafood: for added protein, you can add boiled octopus, real or imitation crab meat, or shirasu (baby anchovies).

How to Make Sunomono Salad

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this quick and easy sunomono salad recipe.

  1. Prepare the cucumbers. Thinly slice the cucumbers with a mandolin and place them in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle the salt over them and toss to combine. Let the cucumbers sit for 5 minutes. Then rinse the cucumbers, squeeze out any excess moisture, and pat dry with a paper towel.
  1. Mix the dressing. In a small bowl, add the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Mix until the sugar and salt dissolve.
Mixing sunomono salad dressing in a glass bowl.
  1. Combine. Toss the cucumbers with the dressing and enjoy.
Mixing together sunomomo salad in a glass bowl.

Tips for the Best Sunomono Salad

  • Use fresh cucumbers. Choose between either Japanese cucumbers or Persian cucumbers that are fresh and crisp for the best flavor. Avoid American cucumbers that are thick, have a waxy bitter skin, and more moisture.
  • Use a mandolin or food processor to quickly slice the cucumbers. If you are planning to make this in bulk or are short on time, use a mandolin or the slicer attachment to your food processor to save on prep time.
  • Squeeze out as much water from the cucumbers as you can. Squeezing out as much water from the Japanese cucumbers allows the cucumbers to reabsorb the
  • Adjust to taste. When you mix your dressing, taste and adjust based on your preferences! If you’d like it sweeter add more sugar. For saltier, add more soy sauce or salt.

Storage Instructions

You can store this sunomono in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Note that the longer the cucumbers sit in the dressing, the softer they may become over time.

Frequently Asked Q’s and A’s

How do I serve sunomono salad?

Sunomono salad is typically served cold as a refreshing appetizer or a side dish to a warm savory meal. The acidity from the rice vinegar paired with the fresh crisp cucumbers will easily brighten up any heavier dish.

What is a Japanese cucumber?

Japanese cucumbers are smaller and slenderer than regular cucumbers. Its skin is tender and smooth and does not need to be peeled before eating. Japanese cucumbers also have very minimal to no seeds creating a crunchy texture. They have a mild, slightly sweet, bright flavor and are less watery than other cucumbers which make them ideal for a salad.

Do Japanese cucumbers need to be peeled?

No, Japanese cucumbers do not need to be peeled because they have thin skins with a mild sweet flavor. This makes them ideal for a cucumber salad because of the easy prep time.

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Recipe

A plate of sunomono salad.

Sunomono Salad (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Sunomono salad or Japanese cucumber salad is a refreshing appetizer or side dish made with crisp, thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers marinated in a sweet, tangy vinegar based dressing.
Servings: 2 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Japanese cucumbers
  • 2 teaspoon salt

Dressing

Instructions

  • Prepare the cucumbers. Thinly slice the cucumbers and place them in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle the salt over them and toss to combine. Let the cucumbers sit for at least 5 minutes. Then rinse the cucumbers, squeeze out any excess moisture, and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Mix the dressing. In a small bowl, add the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Mix until the sugar dissolves.
  • Combine. Toss the cucumbers with the dressing and enjoy.

Notes

  • Use fresh cucumbers. Choose between either Japanese cucumbers or Persian cucumbers that are fresh and crisp for the best flavor. Avoid American cucumbers that are thick, have a waxy bitter skin, and more moisture.
  • Use a mandolin or food processor to quickly slice the cucumbers. If you are planning to make this in bulk or are short on time, use a mandolin or the slicer attachment to your food processor to save on prep time.
  • Squeeze out as much water from the cucumbers as you can. Squeezing out as much water from the Japanese cucumbers allows the cucumbers to reabsorb the
  • Adjust to taste. When you mix your dressing, taste and adjust based on your preferences! If you’d like it sweeter add more sugar. For saltier, add more soy sauce or salt.

Nutrition:

Calories: 104kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2622mg | Potassium: 475mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 318IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1mg

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