Sunomono generally refers to a light salad prepared with a sweet and sour vinegar-based dressing that usually doesn’t contain any oil. This version based on cucumbers and seaweed is a very popular dish in Japanese cuisine.
I’ve been making this salad for many years and the combination is always extremely refreshing in hot weather. It makes a great appetizer as it helps to awaken your palate, or it can serve as a counterbalance to richer dishes.
Since the Fukushima incident in Japan I’ve been more cautious about where I source my sea vegetables from. My favorite source of wakame and other sea vegetables is from Seaweed Iceland because it comes from the Atlantic and is the furthest possible distance away from the nuclear incident.
While some types of sea vegetables can be eaten straight from the pack, wakame does require soaking to make it edible. Generally about ten minutes is adequate. It swells up a lot so you may need to use less than you expect.
For this recipe I recommend the small Japanese or Lebanese cucumbers if you can find them. They tend to be less bitter and more crunchy than the larger English style. But if that’s all you have the recipe will still work fine. I cut the cucumbers into half moon shapes after peeling to remove the skin, which can be somewhat bitter, depending on the variety.
This version is not completely traditional as I’ve used coconut vinegar in place of the usual rice vinegar. Feel free to substitute with rice vinegar if you prefer. Apple cider vinegar could work in a pinch but the flavor is much stronger than coconut and rice vinegar.
While this salad is not a complete meal in itself you could easily create a healthy main dish by serving it with some roasted kabocha squash, brown rice or quinoa and sliced avocado.
- ¼ cup dried wakame seaweed
- 3 Japanese cucumbers
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp. julienned ginger (optional)
- 3 tablespoons coconut vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- Soak wakame in water for about ten minutes to rehydrate.
- Drain well and transfer to a medium bowl. If necessary remove any tough stems and chop into one inch pieces.
- Peel the cucumbers, slice into half moons and place in a separate bowl.
- Sprinkle cucumbers with salt and massage gently.
- After about five minutes gently squeeze out any excess water from cucumbers and place them into the bowl with the wakame.
- Add coconut vinegar, agave and optional ginger to bowl and mix to combine thoroughly.
- Allow to sit for at least five minutes so the cucumbers marinade and become softened.
- Before serving drain off the liquid and place on individual dishes.
I love the simplicity of this salad, however I do sometimes add a dash of hot sauce to this recipe for a little extra flavor. I recommend you try the simple version first and see what you think. If you want some more spice a dash of cayenne might also do the trick.