This dish is something I often eat as an appetizer at Japanese restaurants and it always leaves me craving more! So I decided to make it at home, where I can have as much as I want without feeling guilty asking the waiter for more refills.
This dish is called sunomono, which has a nice and light vinegary smell to it, with great crunch from the Persian or Japanese cucumbers. It’s a super simple salad to make that you can just throw together right before a meal.
I keep everything for this recipe stocked in the pantry, so all I have to do is find some cucumbers and I’m good to go!
Types of cucumbers
The regular large cucumbers you’ll find at most supermarkets just won’t work for this recipe–don’t do it! Those cukes are too large, the skin is too thick, they’re loaded with seeds, and they’re not crunchy.
I can’t even bother with those cucumbers anymore after trying these smaller, crunchier varieties.
You want to go for Japanese cucumbers to do it right, otherwise Persian cucumbers do the trick too. These varieties are crunchier, and have a thin skin you can just leave on. You won’t even need to remove the seeds, since they’re pretty much non-existant.
I find Japanese cucumbers at my local Japanese markets, otherwise Trader Joe’s works for the Persian variety.
Lots of American supermarkets have started to carry these in the last few years too, sometimes referred to as hot house cucumbers. To be honest I’m not sure if it’s a different variety or what, but they taste very similar and work great too.
How to slice cucumbers quickly
If you have a mandolin slicer with some cut-proof gloves you can make quick work of slicing these up. However, doing it by hand works just fine too.
Make a double batch and save a second batch for the next day’s meal! It’s much easier to double up than to redo the whole thing when you want it again. You’ll be glad you did :). Make sure to leave the dressing out on the side if you’re planning to serve it on another day though.
Sunomono Salad Recipe (Japanese Cucumber Salad)
- 2-3 crunchy Japanese or Persian cucumbers
- 1/3 tsp salt to draw out moisture
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Slice all the cucumbers very thin and transfer to a medium sized bowl.
- Sprinkle with salt and toss with your hands to ensure even salt coverage to draw out moisture, Wait 5-10 minutes.
- Then rinse the cucumbers thoroughly to remove the salt, drain, then squeeze all the cucumbers to remove as much water as you can (don't be afraid!).
- Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce until dissolved, then add to cucumbers.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.