4-Ingredient Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)

Sunomono (Cucumber Salad)

Today, I released a video for a Japanese cucumber salad called sunomono. The recipe is vegan-based, and uses only four core ingredients. However, if you want to add something extra, I show you how to add imitation crab or wakame (a type of seaweed). Sunomono is a great starter dish when serving sushi (see my Seattle roll recipe here)!

4-Ingredient Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)

List of Ingredients

(An Amazon shopping list is also available here.)

Sunomono (Cucumber Salad) Ingredients
Sunomono (Cucumber Salad) Ingredients
  1. ¾ Cup Rice Vinegar — I love Mizkan! Look for the label in my picture above! 
  2. ¾ Cup Sugar — Any evaporated cane sugar or white sugar will do.
  3. 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt — Kosher Salt is great at drawing out the water from the cucumber while still being easy on the palate. Use Diamond Crystal if possible; and if using Morton’s, know that you might need to use less salt than I do!
  4. 1 English Cucumber (Or ~5 Persian Cucumbers) — I use English cucumbers, but you can also use Persian cucumbers. If using English cucumbers, you’ll have to peel the cucumber! In my picture above, the English cucumber is larger and plastic-wrapped; the Persian cucumbers are smaller.
  5. Imitation Crab (optional) — This is usually found in the freezer section of Asian markets.
  6. Wakame (optional) — This is a type of seaweed I use for miso soup. Asian markets carry this, too.


(An Amazon shopping list is also available here.

  • 2 medium bowls
  • Colander 
  • Measuring cup 
  • Chopsticks (or something else to stir with)
  • 1 teaspoon measuring spoon 
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Serving bowl

Make the dressing 

First, let’s measure the vinegar and sugar. While I used ¾ cup rice vinegar and ¾ cup sugar to make my dressing, I definitely could have made less. I only used about a ¼ cup of my dressing to make my sunomono. Sometimes, if you don’t draw out enough water from the cucumber, the flavor will be diluted so you need to add extra dressing.

I might recommend starting by making less dressing, while still maintaining the 1:1 ratio of vinegar and sugar (e.g., ¼ cup rice vinegar to ¼ cup sugar). But don’t worry if you have extra because you can store it in the refrigerator! The saved dressing is great for making sushi rice or more sunomono. You can also use this mixture to pickle vegetables! (I will cover pickle making in another video.)

Once you measure out your vinegar and sugar, mix until the sugar is fully dissolved and set aside.

Prepare the cucumbers

Now, let’s prepare your cucumbers! Persian cucumbers are great if you can find them because they don’t need to be peeled. I use an English cucumber in the video because it’s the easiest to find in local grocery stores. 

First, wash your cucumber(s) and peel (if using an English cucumber). When you peel the English cucumber, leave some strips of the skin on to add some color and texture to your salad (see picture below).

Peeling the Cucumber for Sunomono
Peeling the Cucumber for Sunomono

Next, you’ll need to thinly slice the cucumber. I first cut my cucumber in half lengthwise, then through the diameter lengthwise. I then slice each of these quarters into small pieces, such that each slice is the shape of a half-moon.

Salting the Cucumbers
Salting the Cucumbers

Now, sprinkle about a teaspoon of Kosher salt into the bowl with your cucumber slices. Work the salt into the cucumber by gently squeezing the slices between the fingers. This not only softens the cucumber, but also removes some of the water. Continue this until a good amount of the water is removed from your cucumber slices. At this point, your cucumber slices should be softened, but still have a bit of life to them. 

Taste a piece for saltiness and texture. Don’t worry if your cucumber is too salty! You would just want to give the cucumbers a quick rinse in a colander before we remove the remaining water. 

To remove the water, squeeze handfuls of the cucumber slices over the sink. I usually put a colander underneath to catch pieces that might drop from my hands. Once you are finished squeezing a handful, put the squeezed cucumber slices in another bowl. Continue until you have squeezed all of the cucumber. 

It’s time to season the cucumbers with your dressing! Start with just a bit—around ¼ cup—and keep adding to your taste. I saved the rest of my dressing in the fridge for the next time I make sunomono.

Time to plate!

Add your fully dressed cucumbers to your serving bowl! I typically stop here and don’t add any extras, but, if you’d like to add some color, you can use some wakame or imitation crab. 

If you use wakame, you will want to rehydrate a tablespoon of the wakame in water until it is reconstituted. Then, drain the wakame from the water, give a light squeeze, and add it to your cucumbers. Give a good stir.

If you use imitation crab, take one piece and peel skinny strips from it. Tear those pieces in half, add them to your cucumbers, and give a good stir. With your extra crab, you can always make a California roll now that you’ve mastered sushi making from my last video. 😋 

And that’s it! Enjoy!

Author: mpao

Hi there! My name is Marsha Kumi Pao, and I’m a home cook from the Pacific Northwest. Through my videos and blog, I hope to bring you easy, accessible, and tasty recipes that embody my upbringing as a Japanese-American. These recipes are ones that I’ve grown up on and adopted—merging the tastes of my family’s intergenerational and intercultural cuisine

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