Japanese cucumber salad: sunomono

This is the original post, published July 2011. A more recent post has been indexed. 

This one’s the easiest cucumber salad I know, partly because if you have the right seasoned vinegar, that’s all you need: sliced cukes and vinegar. Sure, you can make it look fancy with a sprinkling of sesame seeds or a thin slice of lemon. Or you can top it with cooked crab or shrimp.

What you need to know is this: look for Japanese seasoned vinegar at a grocery that carries a large selection of Asian ingredients. The photo is of the brand I use most often. It’s the vinegar that’s used to make sushi.

The best cucumbers to use for this salad have very few seeds. If you have mature cucumbers, then cut them in half, and remove the seeds by dragging a spoon down the center.

  • Cucumbers, partly peeled in strips, sliced very thin
  • seasoned rice vinegar
  • any garnishes you prefer (see ideas below)

Peel the cucumbers if you like, or for a stripy effect, partly peel them in strips. Cut them into very very thin slices (I use a mandoline, like a tiny guillotine for vegetables) and put them in a bowl. Now pour in the vinegar, to come about halfway up the cukes. Stir it around, so that all the slices are coated.

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Garnish ideas:

  • toasted sesame seeds
  • furikake, a seaweed-based seasoning you can get at a Japanese grocery
  • cooked crab, shredded
  • cooked shrimp
  • a thin slice of lemon


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I’m Maurita Plouff, and I write about cooking and preserving the local harvest in Southeast Michigan. Any recipe you find here is something I have cooked myself, and enjoyed, and think you might like too. I invite you to try the recipes, and leave comments.

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