Cucumber and Wakame Sunomono (Cucumber and Seaweed Salad)


Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook) is one of my biggest Japanese cuisine inspiration sources. If I hadn’t written about any of her recipes recently, it’s only because several of those I had tested and posted have become my staples (Korokke or Potato Teriyaki Pork Rolls are the best examples). This refreshing salad has been bookmarked for a long time and after testing it I already feel that it will regularly appear on my table too.

If you go to a Japanese grocery shop (or to an organic food shop), you will find several types of seaweed, most of them sold in dried form. They have different colours, textures, they are cut in different shapes, they are used in slightly different ways and of course their taste is different. This salad calls for wakame seaweed which is usually sold pre-cut, in small bags. When soaked, wakame’s size increases in a very impressive way. Since it happens very quickly, I am still amazed every time I watch it “grow” in a bowl of water. Since the only dish I have been making with it was miso soup, I was glad to find a second and completely different way to use this seaweed.

This salad is a part of Japanese “sunomono” or vinegared dishes category. Even though I have already had this type of salad in Japanese restaurants, it was my first home-made and I must say I loved everything about it. The colours, the lightness and tanginess of the dressing, the slightly crunchy wakame texture, the dynamic “kick” julienned ginger provided and, most of all, the aroma. In fact, once mixed with the dressing and chilled, the salad’s smell reminded me of freshly caught, fried small fish… This unusual impression is probably due to the combination of wakame, dashi (Japanese stock) and sesame oil. Thank you, Nami, for one more amazing recipe.

TIP: My only modification was reducing the sugar content because I prefer acid dressings. If you want it milder, double the sugar amount (1 tablespoon instead of 1 teaspoon).

Dashi, the Japanese stock, can be bought instant or prepared at home. I make it once a week and refrigerate it (it is used in many Japanese dishes I prepare). Click here to see the recipe.

Toasted sesame seeds were not included in Nami’s recipe, but I just couldn’t stop myself from adding them…

Preparation: 15 minutes + chilling time

Ingredients (serves 2):

1/2 long cucumber or 1 shorter (about 15 cm)

1 teaspoon salt


3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons dashi (Japanese stock; click here to see how to make it at home)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 flat teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 thin slices of julienned fresh ginger

Soak the wakame in a bowl of cold water and drain it after 10 minutes.

Peel the cucumber, leaving the skin with every second stroke of the peeler, so that you obtain a nice pattern.

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then into thin slices.

In a bowl combine the cucumber with salt, mixing well with your hands, and leave for 3 minutes.

Squeeze the cucumber to eliminate the water it has produced and put it into the fridge.

In the meantime combine the dressing ingredients (vinegar, dashi, soy sauce, oil, sugar) and bring them to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Put aside.

When the dressing has cooled down, combine it with wakame and cucumbers.

Chill the salad.

Sprinkle with ginger. Serve.




30 Replies to “Cucumber and Wakame Sunomono (Cucumber and Seaweed Salad)”

  1. I always find that the big differences between Japanese salads and European salads are the dressings… Well, that doesn’t sound quite right. What I mean is that I like cucumber a lot, but when you see salads here it’s just boring slices of cucumber, cut too thickly, thrown in amongst some leaves, but I find Japanese salads are always so lovingly prepared and dressed and the dresssings they use really complement the cucumber and other ingredients well… Do you know what I mean? (Maybe not and I’m just rambling! :p)

    Looks lovely 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, Charles. I know what you mean. I suppose you talk about France… I think the only way they prepare cucumber is adding it to a green salad and as a big cucumber fan I almost always do it when preparing a salade composée (I think it is also in the one I posted), but I add cucumber wherever I can. You are right, in Japanese cuisine cucumbers look much more exciting.

    1. Thank you, Katerina. This salad is definitely light and low-fat, so I suppose good in most healthy diets (seaweed is very healthy too).

  2. Oh, I agree…Nami is SO inspiring. You’ve reminded me to search for dashi in my Whole Foods so I can try some fabulous dishes like this one 🙂 Beautifully done~

  3. Thanks Sissi! You make mysterious ‘seaweed’ so attractive in your writing and I love it. =) Seaweed should be consumed by many people for its good nutrition reason! And thanks for sharing the sunomono recipe. I’m so happy you love it. It’s versatile and you can add crab, kamaboko, shrimp, anything you like (as long as it goes well with vinegar flavor). Your presentation looks so perfect for sunomono too.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments, Nami. I will never be able to present it as beautifully as you do. You know, there are so many Westerners who hate seaweed saying it’s slimy and smells fishy… I like seaweed a lot and even more since it’s so healthy!
      Thanks a lot for the suggestions, I might try with shrimp maybe (I have it all the time in the freezer).

  4. Oh dear, you had me salivating until you mentioned fish (haha! Just kidding… ;-)). I love everything about this salad and especially the idea of the slivered ginger… mmm…. I think I may have shared with you that one of my favourite snacks is simply sliced carrot/cucumber in vinegar. Just love it! Congrats on the success of your first sunomono Sissi – it looks great.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. Yes, I remember your favourite vinegared snack. I also love vinegared salads in general.

  5. I have a lot of Nami’s recipes bookmarked as well! 🙂 Beautiful job with this one! I agree with the reduction in sugar as well as the addition of sesame seeds. I always add seeds or nuts to a salad. It makes such a difference!

  6. Ha, I just might make this tomorrow! Saw my friend (who is a vegetarian) and her family crunching on small cucumbers, I had to buy some last weekend while grocery shopping, but had not decided what to do with them. Your posting came at just the right time!

  7. Just one Cookbook is definitely the Japanese recipe portal to reckon with. I also tried a lot of her recipes but to tell you honestly i haven’t tired any of her salads yet. Looking at your bowl of freshness inspire me to fix myself a bowl right now haha.
    I love the addition of the toasted sesame, it definitely gives an added texture and flavor.
    glad to be here!

  8. Wakeme and cucumbers are a great combination, and is a very common one in Japan. Just like you, I usually cut back on the amount of sugar.
    It’s a shame that wakeme and other “seaweeds” are so called…
    There should be better sounding words like sea plants and marine algae.

    And, just like you, I’m still amazed to see how dried wakame expands when reconstituted, 10-15 times the original size!

    1. Hi, Hiroyuki. This is one more common Japanese food, extremely unusual for Europeans! In French at least they are called “algues”, so it sounds better but people make funny faces when I say I like it…
      In the “food miracle” category I am also amazed to observe how the katsuobushi moves when put on something warm! (I have okonomiyaki every Sunday now and top it with loads of katsuobushi and every time I love watching it “dance”).

  9. Hi SIssi, this does look like something we would enjoy very much, and like you, I would also reduce the sugar as I too like an acidic vinaigrette. The colours are just wonderful—I can almost taste the fresh texture and flavours.
    I remember as a child my Hungarian Mom introduced us to dried seaweed, she found it at the grocery store. I immediately LOVED it. She was a grand experimenter.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. Your mum sounds like a very adventurous cook! Parents who are curious about food and experiment with new flavours open our tastebuds and horizons forever. When I was a child I remember friends whose mothers cooked bland, boring food were afraid to taste even a new spice, not to mention seaweed…

  10. This is a very simple yet very refreshing and delicious salad! Love it and the dressing too!
    I agree with you about Just One Cookbook! It’s the place to be for Japanese cuisine fans like us! 🙂

    1. You are joking? I was sure you would hate the seaweed idea! I’m very happy you like this salad idea. I think it would taste great with a fish dish.

Comments are closed.