Inspired by tasty Japanese cucumber salad, this vinegary, umami rich sunomono salad is delicious. One of my favourite summer salads – fresh noodles, tomato, cucumber and wakame (seaweed) – it’s perfectly healthy, vibrant, and full of flavour. Your next summer is ready!
This sunomono salad is the perfect combination of fresh salad vegetables, and healthy bean noodles, combined with a vinegary sunomono sauce (sanbai zu in Japanese). The balance of tang and slightly sweetened dressing makes it a great accompaniment to mains or a healthy option for a light lunch.
Sunomono is a popular dish in Japanese cuisine and is often served as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants. Su means vinegar and mono is a thing. Suno mono means vinegary dish, and this sunomono salad recipe gives options to create variations and make it your own.
This vegetable salad is regularly enjoyed in summer in Japan. So add a summery salad to your repertoire – you won’t regret it. Bring joy in your life and share it with your loved ones! Read on!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
I love sunomono recipes and especially sunomono cucumber. They’re a regular feature in my kitchen in summer. Fresh, tangy, slightly sweet and moreish, it’s a perfect, quick and easy go to recipe for me and never disappoints.
There are many ways to make sunomono salad – you can really make it your own. I tried and tested various options, and my favourite combination is wakame (thin seaweed), harusame (glass noodles), cherry tomato and of course Japanese cucumbers!
These selected vegetables are soaked in sunomono dressing. It’s made with basic Japanese ingredients. You can find them easily at the local Japanese or Asian stores and most regular super markets.
Harusame (glass noodles): I’ve selected harusame for this sunomono recipe because I love it. Harusame is healthy and filling. It also absorbs the sunomono sauce magically. You can find it easily at your local super market.
Harusame is made either by potato, sweet potato or mung beans. Mung beans is best for this recipe. When harusame is dried, it can be difficult to separate. If there’s a cut or separated in small packages version, get that one. If not, no problem just separate as you cook them.
Japanese cucumbers: Traditionally, Japanese cucumbers are used for sunomono. I prefer using them for this recipe, and I even grow them in my garden. You can find them at the local Japanese stores.
To substitute, Lebanese cucumbers works well (no need to peel the skins or remove the seeds). You can use other cucumbers if need be, but you’ll need to remove the skins and seeds.
Japanese soy sauce: I use yuki shoyu (organic soy sauce) from Kikkoman. You can use any Japanese soy sauce. If you prefer gluten-free, Kikkoman has it. Tamari is also often gluten-free, just check the label to be sure.
Japanese rice vinegar: Su means vineger in Japanese. I use rice vinegar (kome su). I love its flavour. Its milder than Western white vinegar and Japanese kokumotsu su (vinegar made by wheat and corn).
Wakame: Wakame is one of many varieties of Japanese seaweed. It’s quite thin compared to other seaweeds such as kombu and is often used for wakame salad. Use either dried or salt preserved wakame (see photo above). You can find it at your local or Asian supermarkets.
How to Make Sunomono Salad
Here’s a few steps to help you to maximize the flavour and taste of this recipe!
Use either dry or salted wakame seaweed, and soak them with water. Once the dried wakame becomes softened, drain the water.
For salted wakame, make sure the salt is removed by putting it under running water. It’s optional but I always pour a half cup of boiled water on and clean it.
Cook harusame with boiled water. follow the instructions written on a package and be careful not to overcook it. I usually cook it for three minutes. After cooking, place immediately in cold water and drain with a sieve, allowing them to cool down before using. Then cut them.
Sprinkle sea salt
Cucumber contains a lot of moisture. When it meets with vinegar, it releases water.
One thing to help you elevate your sunomono salad to the next level is a simple Japanese cooking technique called shiomomi. After cutting cucumbers into slices, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt in the bowl and rub it into the slices.
Leave them for a while and gently squeeze cucumber slices by hand to remove excess water from the cucumbers.
This simple cooking technique is a secret that changes the texture and flavour of cucumber slices. They absorb the sunomono sauce well and the taste becomes more condensed after releasing extra water.
Place sliced cucumber, wakame, harusame and cherry tomato in a bowl.
Once you finished preparing the vegetables, make the sunomono sauce and mix up all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
Pour the sauce into the vegetables on a bowl. Mix up all the ingredients with chopsticks or a fork.
That’s it! Serve immediately. Enjoy!
FAQs for Sunomono Salad
Can you make this sunomono salad in advance?
Yes you can. Prepare the vegetables you’d like to mix. Then make the sunomono dressing. Keep them separately in the fridge. Mix them up just before you serve.
Once you master the basics of this sunomono salad recipe, you can make your own. You can try adding:
- red bell pepper
- mozuku (seaweed)
Spicy sunomono salad, add:
- red chili flakes
- sesame oil
- toasted sesame seeds
For extra flavour and punch:
Sunomono salad with sesame oil, add:
- sesame oil
- red chili flakes
- grated garlic
Let me know how yours went in the comment section below!
More Salad Recipes:
Sunomono Salad Recipe
- 2 tablespoons dried wakame seaweed (5g: or salted wakame 30g)
- 1.41 oz dried glass noodles* (40g)
- 2 Japanese cucumbers
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- ¼ sea salt (to rub it in cucumber slices)
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar (any and I use cane sugar)
- ½ tablespoon Japanese soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Cook dry harusame by following the instruction on the package. It usually three minutes. Transfer cooked harusame into cold water in a bowl, and drain in a sieve. Allow to cool. Set aside.
- Soak dried wakame with water in a bowl. If it's salted, remove the salt with running water. Set aside.
- Slice cherry tomatoes into half. Set aside.
- Remove both edges of Japanese cucumbers and cut them into thin slices. Sprinkle sea salt and rub it into the slices. Allow to rest for two minutes and remove excess water by squeezing them with hands gently. Set aside.
- Combine Japanese soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar well with a spoon, whisk or chopsticks in a medium size bowl.
- Add sliced Japanese cucumbers, wakame, cherry tomatoes and harusame into the bowl and mix up all the ingredients with sunomono sauce in it. Mix well.That's it! Serve immediately. Enjoy!