Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cucumber & Wakame Sunomono (Vinegared Salad) - (Vegetarian)

Almost every Japanese restaurant that I've ever been to, from the sushi bars to the hibachi joints, offers "sunomono" on their menus. Typically, this is synonymous with a seaweed salad, and often includes cucumber slices as well. "Sunomono" simply means "vinegared dish" in Japanese ("su" means "vinegar"), and is a catch-all term for a number of dishes. I'm often both amused and shocked that a tiny little bowl of this salad is offered on these menus for around $5 - $6, when it's incredibly easy and inexpensive to make at home. Like Texas Caviar, Mom usually has some sunomono (and ALWAYS onigiri) prepared whenever I go home to visit.

Vinegared salads are a great counterpart to fried foods in Japanese cuisine (such as tempura), and are also a cool, refreshing course during the hot, sticky summer months. Not only are sunomono salads quick and easy to prepare, but most are very healthy as well. My version also includes cellophane noodles for added texture and to make the salad more of a meal. 

Wakame is a dried seaweed used in sunomono (not the same kind that is used for making dashi, nor for rolling maki), and should be available at any Asian market or health food store. 

Cucumber & Wakame Sunomono (Vinegared Salad)
aka "kyuuri to wakame no sunomono"

4-5 Japanese cucumbers (or 1 large English cucumber)
1 bundle cellophane noodles (aka saifun/maifun noodles)
Sea salt
2 Tbsp dried wakame (seaweed)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup dashi
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar

Thinly slice the cucumbers with a mandoline; toss the slices with a few pinches of sea salt and set aside for about 15 minutes to allow the moisture to be drawn out

Meanwhile, rehydrate the wakame by soaking in hot water, and soak the dried cellophane noodles according to the package directions. I use water that is just under boiling, and, when i do, the wakame rehydrates almost instantly. The cellophane noodles usually take 2-3 minutes to fully rehydrate. 

Combine the rice vinegar, dashi, soy sauce and sugar, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Rinse the salted cucumber and wakame with cold water and squeeze out the excess moisture. Squeeze the moisture from the cellophane noodles and cut into manageable lengths. 

Place the noodles in the bottom of a serving bowl. Top with the cucumber and wakame. Spoon the dressing on top and garnish if desired.

You can even "fancy up" this salad by adding cold cooked shrimp or cooled boiled octopus slices to the salad as well. I was going to add the tako (octopus) for this blog post, but it was TWENTY-THREE DOLLARS at the store. But that's ok - this salad was every bit as good on its own! 


  1. I got some wakame but hated it on its own, tried this recipe but substituted the sugar for mirin. A nice recipe so now I can enjoy the wakame instead of heaving. Lovely :)

  2. Made this today,it's fantastic! The only thing I did different was water my dressing down with 3/4c water. Will defiantly make this more. Thanks:)

    1. You're welcome, Mya! Glad you enjoyed it!