Kyuri & Wakame Sunomono

Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Appetizers, Blog, Family Favorites, Japanese Cuisine Favorites, Salad | 4 comments


When I was little my mom would make sunomono (Japanese vinegared salad) with kyuri (Japanese cucumber) and wakame (seaweed).  Sometimes she would also add dried shirasu (whitefish; baby “katakuchi” sardine) or other small dried fish “for calcium” as she said.

Often times at dinner I would see a bowl of sunomono as one of the many Japanese side dishes served with our fish, curry, or other Japanese dish we were eating.  I became accustomed to grabbing just a few bites of sunomono and took for granted the availability of this sweet and sour refreshing salad.

It was only recently, however, that I began making this on my own.  Until then, I always used to take some home from my parent’s house because I thought it was too much work to make.  :)

I discovered that it’s quite easy, and it’s really quick to make!

But first, I asked my mom for her recipe, and she said in Japanese, “Ehh, I don’t measure anything.  I just add the ingredients and taste as I go.”  This might explain why her sunomono tastes different every time.  Haha.  Yet I can’t be too critical because this is what I found myself doing too.

For my blog however, I took the time to measure the ingredients as I went.  This is quite an accomplishment considering I’ve been making this now for about 3 years on the fly.

So last night I was lazy and decided to make mabo tofu with some ground pork for the family, using my fave trusty box of House Foods Chinese Mabo Tofu Sauce – Mild.  On the box it says, “All you add is ground meat and tofu.”  Literally, that’s all you need.  Quick and easy.

At first I was going to be a bad bebe mama and just add frozen peas or fresh spinach to the mabo tofu, but then I remembered I had some Japanese cucumber in the fridge.  Hurray!  I could easily make sunomono salad!

Typically, there are two types of sunomono: 1) very vinegary with a hint of salt, or 2) amazu which is sweet and vinegary.  My mom always made amazu sunomono which is also what I make.

Kyuri & Wakame Sunomono

  • 1 large Japanese kyuri (cucumber); English cucumber may be substituted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons dried cut wakame (seaweed)

Use a mandoline to slice the cucumber thinly.  I use the 1/15 inch setting to create thin, delicate slices of paper-thin cucumber.  Please be careful not to cut yourself!

Put the cucumber slices in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.  I use my hands to mix the cucumber slices.  Let the cucumbers sit for about 10 minutes in this salt bath.  The cucumbers will become very pliable.

Drain liquid and squeeze excess salt water from the cucumbers and return to the bowl.

Rehydrate cut dried wakame in a bowl of hot water.  This will take about 5 minutes.  Drain and squeeze excess water.

SHOPPER’S TIP: I buy Shirakiku brand dried wakame, but any brand will suffice.  This can be found at most asian markets but I usually buy this at Marukai Supermarket as they tend to be cheaper than other Japanese markets such as Mitsuwa or Nijiya.

Add wakame to the bowl of cucumbers, and add rice wine vinegar and sugar.  Mix well.

COOKING TIP: I don’t recommend using distilled vinegar in lieu of rice wine vinegar as the latter is more mild and palatable.

Cut lemon in half and remove seeds.  Add juice of lemon according to your preference.  I usually add the juice of the whole lemon because my family likes their sunomono tart!

This is perfect for a refreshing spring or summer salad.  :)


  1. avatar

    Thanks for the update, bebemama!

    Love the recipe for sunomono. I will have to try and make it!! A mandolin, huh? Not sure what that is, but seems like a neat tool to have!!

    Keep ’em coming!! :)

    • avatar

      My pleasure! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

      A mandoline is a fancy word for food slicer. :) I actually thought it was spelled mandolin with no “e” but that actually refers to the instrument! I had to do a search on Crate & Barrel to confirm the spelling for the food slicer. LOL. It’s pretty handy for thinly slicing daikon, making potato slices. It also has attachments for julienne vegetables. Pretty awesome.

  2. avatar

    I have tired to make this salad before but not being used to eating seaweed it was a deal breaker. We found it strong in flavor and rather slimy in texture. All I did was to soak the dried wakame in water and gently squeezed out excess water. Then added it to the salted, rinsed, squeezed cucumber like in your recipe. Did I do something wrong? Might it be the brand ( I am sorry I do not remember the brand)? Or is it just something we need to become used too?

    • avatar

      Hello! The wakame (or seaweed), once reconstituted is definitely slimy in nature, regardless of the brand of dried wakame. It’s just the natural texture of the seaweed and really, you either like it or you don’t. Some people grow to like it, while others just never care for it. Having grown up eating wakame quite a bit, I never thought twice about it’s texture and just accepted it the way it was.

      There are many types of sunomono salads, and the wakame can certainly be omitted if this makes the salad more palatable for you. Also, in going back to look at this post, I realized I made a typo with regards to the amount of rice vinegar needed for my recipe. It’s 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, not 1 teaspoon. Simply try omitting the wakame next time, and perhaps substitute it with boiled shrimp or even paper-thin carrot slices. The salad is also delicious with just cucumbers. :)