Sunomono Salad Recipe (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

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 is a side 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 with a delicious, light flavor you can just throw together right before a meal.

Japanese cucumber salad - sunomono

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.

persian cucumbers and knife on a cutting board

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, but they taste very similar and work great too.

I am completely fine using these other varieties because they tend to offer organic cucumbers whereas that can be harder to come by at Asian supermarkets.

How to slice cucumbers quickly

Whichever method you decide to use, your ultimate goal is to get thin slices of cucumber without any slices of your finger :).

If you have a mandolin slicer with some cut-proof gloves you can make quick work of slicing these up. This means having a glove and an extra tool to wash, but if you’re making a larger batch, it’s totally worth it. Also there is a nice aesthetic to the cucumbers using the mandolin slicer since they all come out perfectly uniform.

And don’t forget about your food processor! If yours has a thin enough slicer attachment and a feed tube, you can probably slice up 8 cucumbers for this salad in under a minute.

I’m not shy about cutting these by hand with a chefs knife, but if you’re going to cut 300 of anything, staying consistency with the thickness takes time to achieve. But of course, cutting it by hand with a knife works. Just make sure you have a sharp knife to keep the slices thin. Or if you have a simple box grater, that works just fine too!

Tips for making cucumber salad

completed sunomono salad with sesame seeds

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. When you’re ready to serve, add the dressing then top with toasted sesame seeds, and you’re ready to go!

Try my other pickle recipes!

What is a Japanese cucumber?

Japanese cucumbers are longer and slimmer than typical cucumbers you see at American supermarkets. They’re usually around a 12″ long, a bit longer than Persian cucumbers, yet shorter than the very large English cucumbers that you can often find in plastic wrap. Japanese cucumbers have a green skin like the others.

They typically are sprinkled with tiny little bumps throughout the body that aren’t prickly. Their flavor is mild, not bitter, so they’re great for salads and adding dressing too, or having on the side for a nice light crunchy texture.

Do Japanese cucumbers need to be peeled?

Japanese cucumber skins are relatively thin with a mild to sweet flavor, so no they do not need to be peeled. If you’re looking to add some visual flair by exposing the cucumber’s whiter interior you can peel some of the skin for a striped effect, but you don’t need to spend time peeling the whole thing since I love the look, and the taste and texture is pleasant as is!

Sunomono Pinterest Image
sunomono salad

Sunomono Salad Recipe (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

5 from 21 votes
A super easy cucumber salad recipe to make! This side dish is light and crispy, with just the right amount of seasoning to keep you coming back for more.
BY: Huy Vu
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
SERVINGS: 2

Ingredients

  • 2-3 crunchy Japanese or Persian cucumbers
  • 1/3 tsp salt to draw out moisture

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Instructions 

  • 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 excess moisture. The goal is to remove as much water as you can. Don't be afraid to squeeze hard, the cucumbers can take it!
  • Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce until dissolved, then add to cucumbers.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 0g | Calories: 42kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 59IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Japanese cucumber salad
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!

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13 comments on “Sunomono Salad Recipe (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

  1. Shonalika says:

    Ohh, I’ve had a very similar dish a couple of times before in Japanese restaurants – I didn’t realise it was a different kind of cucumber! I love that dish and the look of this salad. Will have to keep an eye out for the Japanese/Persion varieties)

    1. Huy says:

      Yup, and it’s really easy to make too!

  2. sbo says:

    This is a very good article. Thank you for a great information.
    Looks really yummy.
    I like to eat salad.

  3. DeannaD says:

    I made this for a sake tasting i had this past weekend and everyone LOVED the salad. I used english cucumbers as they were more readily available to me than the Persian or Japanese styles. The English cucumbers worked perfectly too.

    I had some leftovers for the next day that were also quite delicious! Thank you for sharing this healthy recipe and clever way to use cucumbers.

    1. Huy says:

      Hey Deanna, that’s amazing to hear! This is such a simple one to make and thanks for the tip on the English cucumbers. I think they’re pretty similar and can be swapped when needed. Cheers!

  4. Brad says:

    Actually you can use regular cucumbers in a pinch, just get the smallest in diameter you can. First “rake ” the skins with a fork lengthwise to cut through the skin all around. Next cut the cuke in half lengthwise and using a spoon scrape out the seeds and soft core. Then thinly slice crosswise. Your slices will sort of look like half moons. Then proceed with the recipe.

  5. Meral says:

    What kind of rice wine vinegar Is used here? Seasoned or plain?

    1. Hungry Huy says:

      Plain 🙂

  6. Jeff says:

    Delicious recipe! I added some toasted sesame oil and it was perfect.

  7. Julie says:

    5 stars
    This is so good!!! I grew my own Japanese cucumbers and made this exactly as instructed. I will be making it several times a week until the cukes are all gone.

    1. Huy @ Hungry Huy says:

      Several times a week, wow! Thanks Julie 🙂

  8. Mary T says:

    5 stars
    Your recipe is my ‘go to site’ to make Sunomono Salad. Easy instructions, simple ingredients. I also use English cucumbers or mini cucumbers with great results. I always use my mandoline to get uniform slices. Toasting the sesame seeds is a nice touch and I remember my mother in law serving the salad this way.

    1. Huy @ Hungry Huy says:

      Awesome glad you enjoyed it Mary!

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