Japanese Cucumber Salad

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This is a great light summer dish that is refreshing, crisp and very easy to make. It is typically served as an appetizer, but can also be served as a light salad. This dish is quite classic in its flavors, with the sourness of the vinegar balanced by the sweetness of the sugar, then complemented by a dash of soy and a hint of toasted seeds with the sesame oil. Just remember with sesame oil, a little goes a long way!

Normally Japanese cucumbers are used, but in many areas they can be hard to find. In that case, English cucumbers can be substituted. The main difference between the two is that Japanese cucumbers have a thinner skin and are a bit bumpier in texture. Both types of cucumbers tend to be long, somewhat narrow and semi-seedless. If I’m using an English cucumber, I like to peel it in alternating green stripes to add color and crunch to the dish.

Traditionally, the cucumbers are often tossed with a bit of wakame or seaweed, however I have omitted it in this recipe as it is not readily available everywhere. The salad is best served chilled in individual bowls and garnished with sesame seeds.

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Japanese Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)
Serves 4


  • 2 medium Japanese cucumbers, partially peeled & thinly sliced
    (can substitute 1 English cucumber)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. mix of white and toasted sesame seeds


  1. Peel cucumbers in alternating strips. Cut the cucumber into thin slices, preferably around 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Can also use a mandoline to slice the cucumbers. Add cucumbers to a medium-sized colander and sprinkle layers with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, gently squeeze cucumbers a handful at a time to remove liquid. Place in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a small bowl mix the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil together until the sugar dissolves completely, add to the cucumbers, and toss gently. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve individually.
  3. Can be made beforehand and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

One response to “Japanese Cucumber Salad

  1. Pingback: Beginner’s Guide: Stocking an Asian Pantry | Chef on a Boat·

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