Sunomono 酢の物 , a traditional Japanese cucumber salad, is made with thinly sliced cucumbers dressed with a bright vinegar dressing made of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sugar. It's a light, refreshing Japanese cucumber salad that is the perfect side dish to any meal!
What is sunomono?
Sunomono (酢の物) is a Japanese cucumber salad made of thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers dressed in a tangy and bright vinegar-based dressing of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. It's a refreshing salad commonly served in sushi restaurants as an appetizer or starter.
What's unique about sunomono is how the cucumbers are lightly salted ahead of time to draw out their moisture. This preparation gives the cucumbers a crunchy texture not found in other cucumber salads while adding the perfect amount of seasoning.
Why use Japanese cucumbers?
Japanese cucumbers are best for sunomono because of their low seed content, slightly sweet flavor, thin skin, and crispy texture.
Because the skin is typically left on for sunomono, using a variety of cucumbers with thin, non-bitter skin, such as the Japanese cucumber, is ideal.
Types of cucumbers for sunomono
Good substitutions for Japanese cucumber are the English cucumber and Persian cucumber.
The difference between Japanese and English cucumbers is that the Japanese variety is thinner and smaller, so please be sure to look for thin, medium-sized English cucumbers to substitute with the Japanese cucumber.
Otherwise, a few Persian cucumbers may be used as well. Typically, 3 to 4 medium Persian cucumbers will amount to a large Japanese cucumber.
Ingredients for Sunomono
- Japanese cucumbers - Look for one that's firm and blemish-free. Substitute with a medium English cucumber or 3 to 4 medium-sized Persian cucumbers.
- Sea salt - Sprinkling the sliced cucumbers with salt will draw out their moisture, creating an extra crunchy texture.
- Rice wine vinegar - This gives the dressing a bright and tangy flavor. Use unseasoned rice wine vinegar.
- Soy sauce - A touch of soy sauce adds salinity and umami to this refreshing salad.
- Sugar - Sugar adds a subtle sweetness to the dressing, making it perfectly balanced.
How to Make Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)
- Slice the cucumbers very thinly using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Ensure they are even in thickness.
- Add sea salt to the cucumbers and toss to coat the cucumber slices evenly. Set it aside for several minutes until the moisture is drawn out. This seasons the cucumber slices and allows them to have a crunchy texture. Taste the cucumber and rinse it once if you find it too salty.
- Next, mix together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame seeds to create a vinaigrette dressing.
- Finally, pour the dressing over the cucumbers and serve immediately or chill in the fridge.
More cucumber recipes:
10 Minute Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)
- 1 large Japanese cucumber - see Note 1
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Prep the cucumbers: Use a mandoline to thinly slice the cucumbers. Toss the sliced cucumbers with sea salt and let stand until the moisture is drawn out, about 3 to 6 minutes, depending on thickness. Squeeze out the excess moisture. Taste and rinse if it's too salty. Otherwise, leave it as is.1 large Japanese cucumber, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Dressing: Combine the rice wine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame seeds in a bowl. Whisk to dissolve the sugar.2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Serve: Toss the cucumbers with the dressing and serve immediately or chilled. Enjoy!
✎ Recipe Notes
- Japanese cucumber - For substitutions, use a medium-sized English cucumber or the equivalent amount of Persian cucumbers (about 3 to 4).
- Optional - Add wakame (seaweed), tako (octopus), crab, or shrimp.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.
Japanese cucumbers are thin, mild-flavored cucumbers with very few seeds. Their crunchy, slightly sweet flavor and thin skin make them ideal for eating raw or pickled.
Sunomono is typically served as an appetizer or starter in Japanese restaurants and is usually served chilled and sometimes with wakame (seaweed), tako (octopus), crab, or shrimp. It's a popular Japanese cucumber salad found on many sushi restaurant menus.