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This Japanese cucumber salad, also known as sunomono salad is made with rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. It’s a great change from the traditional low carb cucumber salad.
We’ve been getting tons of fresh cucumbers from the garden. So, I figured I’d try a new salad recipe besides my usual apple cider vinegar cucumber salad.
This time, I decided to change things up by adding in an Asian flare and make a sunomono salad which is a Japanese style cucumber salad. If you’ve ever eaten in a Japanese restaurant, you may have been served this delicious salad before your meal.
I try to venture beyond the traditional American dishes as it can get pretty boring with the same old old thing. So testing out foods from other countries is a nice change.
This Japanese cucumber salad is often served at the beginning of a meal. It’s simply cucumber slices with the seeds removed marinated in a vinegar and or soy based dressing. And typically it’s garnished with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
The dressing used can vary, though. Sometimes an amazu sweet and sour sauce made with rice vinegar and sugar can be used. Other times a soy-based ponzu sauce with citrus is used.
But, a simple marinade made from vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce is also a popular dressing for the salad which is what I prefer. This easy to make tangy dressing has a touch of sweetness that makes sunomono a light and refreshing side dish any time of year.
Ingredients needed for a Japanese cucumber salad
To make this salad, you’ll need a couple large cucumbers, a little salt, some rice vinegar, low carb sweetener, ginger (fresh or dried ground), and soy sauce. Sesame seeds are optional, but if you want a nice presentation it’s good to have some to sprinkle on top of each serving.
Although I used regular cucumber from the garden, it’s best to use English cucumbers or Persian cucumber which have a lot less seeds. That way, there’s more cucumber left after removing the seeds.
You can grate fresh ginger if you have it, using about twice the amount of dried ground ginger called for. I only had the dry powdered spice on hand which is why I didn’t use it in my version of the salad.
If you don’t like ginger, the cucumber sunomono salad can be made without it. However, to get a traditional Asian taste in the salad, ginger is a key ingredient.
How to make a sunomono salad
It’s super easy to make this Japanese cucumber salad. The first step is to seed and partially peel off some of the skins. I like to peel off strips of the skin so there’s some dark green color sprinkled about in the side dish. Then, the cucumber are sliced lengthwise to remove the seeds.
Each cucumber half is then cut into thin slices which are placed into a large bowl. Salt is sprinkled over the cucumber slices and allowed to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to soften.
Salting the cucumbers draws out liquid from within the fruit. So after the cucumber slices have sat to release moisture, they are drained and squeezed to remove the excess liquid.
The marinate is made in a small bowl by combining vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, and soy sauce. Although I used dried ground ginger, freshly grated ginger provides a more authentic taste. The marinate is stirred into the cucumber slices and then the salad is chilled for at least an hour before serving.
Seafood sunomono variation
If you want to change up the salad to make it more of a light meal, simply add in some protein. Traditionally, crab or octopus (tako) is mixed into the Japanese cucumber salad. This makes it a wonderful light meal that’s perfect for summer or as a lunch any time of year.
It’s no easy to get octopus in my area so I like to add fish or lobster meat. Some people add imitation crab meat, but that’s not a good choice for low carb because there’s starch added. A better option is to use meat from large Alaskan king crabs.
Although I really like sunomono salad with crab meat, lobster is a better option for me as it’s a seafood that’s native to my area. So the meat you add to this simple salad should really be based on what’s available locally.
Do you grow your own cucumbers? How do you like to eat them?
Sunomono Salad Recipe
Enjoy this quick and easy salad recipe. And be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below if you do give it a try.
Sunomono Japanese Cucumber Salad
- 2 large cucumbers peeled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 2 stevia packets
- 3/4 teaspoon ginger or 1 1/2 tsp fresh grated
- 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- sesame seeds optional
- Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out any large seeds. Slice crosswise into very thin slices. Place cucumber slices in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, or until cucumbers are softened. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid.
- In a small bowl combine vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, and soy sauce. Add cucumbers and mix until cucumbers are coated with the mixture. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of each serving as garnish if desired.
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