This Japanese cucumber salad is a light and refreshing blend of thinly sliced cucumbers tossed in a homemade dressing and garnished with sesame seeds. A quick and easy side dish that pairs well with a wide variety of main course options!
I’m always looking for new and interesting salads to go along with our everyday meals. Some of my favorites include a healthy arugula salad, classic caprese salad, and this simple, yet totally satisfying Sunomono salad.
Cucumber Salad Ingredients
The ingredients for this recipe are simple, and consist of cucumbers, sugar, salt, sesame seeds, rice vinegar and soy sauce.
How do you make Japanese cucumber salad?
Start by cutting your cucumbers into very thin slices. Toss the cucumber slices in salt. This is an important step as it will draw the excess moisture out of the cucumbers so they stay crunchy in the salad. Drain the cucumber slices in a colander, then use your hands to squeeze any extra liquid out of them. Make a dressing by mixing together rice vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, then serve.
Tips for the perfect dish
- For a more authentic flavor, use Japanese cucumbers if you can find them. If you can’t get Japanese cucumbers, I recommend using Persian cucumbers which are available in many stores and have a similar flavor and consistency. You can also make this with traditional waxy cucumbers, but you’ll want to peel them and remove the seeds.
- You can use a mandoline to cut your cucumbers into very thin slices.
- While Sunomono goes well with any number of Japanese dishes, I also find it to be great when served alongside grilled chicken or seafood.
- You can use white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, or a combination of the two. It’s really up to you!
Sunomono is a Japanese term that refers to vinegared veggies such as this cucumber salad. The cucumbers are lightly pickled in a mixture of vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. This salad is typically served as a side dish to go along with a larger meal. It can also be served as an appetizer, because the tart flavor of the vinegar is thought to stimulate the appetite before a meal.
I only peel cucumbers that have a thick or waxy skin. Thin skinned cucumbers, such as Japanese, Persian or English cucumbers do not need to be peeled. In addition, the peel contains most of the nutrients so it’s healthier to leave the peel on!
This salad can be made up to 6 hours before you plan to serve it. Leftover salad will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Japanese cucumber salad flavor variations
This salad is great as-is, but you can add other ingredients to make the flavors your own. The additional ingredients are not traditional, but I find them to be delicious nonetheless.
- Vegetables: You can add other vegetables to this salad such as wakame seaweed, or thinly sliced red onion.
- Herbs: I love to add a sprinkling of sliced green onions on top of the cucumbers.
- Seafood: You can sometimes find this salad with seafood in it, such as shrimp, crab or even octopus!
I always keep cucumbers in the fridge, so when I need a salad, this is a go-to recipe for me!
More great salad recipes to try
Japanese Cucumber Salad
- 4 cups cucumbers thinly sliced, I prefer to use Japanese or Persian cucumbers
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Place the cucumbers in a large bowl. Add the salt and toss to combine. Let the cucumbers stand for 10 minutes.
- Place the rice vinegar, sugar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Transfer the cucumbers to a colander. Pour the excess liquid out of the bowl.
- Use your hands to squeeze any remaining liquid out of the cucumbers.
- Place the cucumbers back into the bowl. Add the rice vinegar mixture and toss to combine.
- Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, then serve, or refrigerate for later use.
- For a more authentic flavor, use Japanese cucumbers if you can find them. If you can’t get Japanese cucumbers, I recommend using Persian cucumbers which are available in many stores and have a similar flavor and consistency. You can also make this with traditional waxy cucumbers, but I recommend peeling them and removing the seeds.
- You can use a mandoline to easily cut your cucumbers into very thin slices.
- This salad can be made up to 6 hours before you plan to serve it. Leftovers will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.