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Fresh and clean tasting, with a vinegary bite, this popular salad is actually a very quickly prepared pickle. The Japanese home-cook knows that sunomono is a great way to use up ends of vegetables or leftover boiled seafoods or meats. Almost anything goes (with vinegar) so start with this recipe, and then turn the page to see how you can expand your sunomono repertoire.

Shrimp and cucumber sunomono salad



  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced into paper-thin rounds
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 2-3g (about 2 tsp.) dried wakame kelp
  • 25g harusame noodles or bean vermicelli


  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar + ½ – 1 tsp. sugar or mirin or 2 Tbsp sushi vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. cold water or chilled dashi
  • Dash of soy sauce or pinch of salt (optional)


  1. Cut and “salt massage” the cucumber. Slice cucumbers in to paper-thin rounds, sprinkle with salt, and “massage” them. (See below for more details.) Leave to rest for at least 10 – 15 minutes before firmly squeezing out and discarding the liquid.
  2. Boil the noodles. Meanwhile, boil the harusame noodles according to the directions on the package (this will vary with the brand) drain, and immediately plunge the cooked noodles into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking. Drain once cooled.
  3. Reconstitute the wakame. Place the dried wakame in a small bowl and reconstitute by covering with boiling water. Leave for 1 minute, then drain and squeeze as soon as it’s ready, so that it doesn’t get too soft.
  4. Assemble the salad. Arrange the salad ingredients as you like in small side-dishes or one communal dish.
  5. Mix the dressing ingredients and pour it over the salad. Serve immediately.

How to salt massage vegetables

Salt-massaged veggies are an amazing way to soften vegetables without cooking them, leaving you with supple, flavourful, and nutrient-packed veggies you can use to adorn green salads or even serve in gomaae style. Simply cut hard vegetables like carrots, daikon radish, or cucumber into even, paper-thin rounds or strips, sprinkle with salt (about ¼ tsp. per cup cut veggies) and “massage” with your hands. Don’t worry about breaking them– the point here is to physically and chemically break them down to release juices. Leave to rest for about 10-20 minutes (depending on the veggie’s hardness) at room temperature, then squeeze firmly and discard excess liquid.

Good to Know:

Taste your veggies before dressing them. If they’re too salty, soak them in fresh, cold water for 5 – 10 minutes and drain before using.

Sunomono Variations:

Carrot, daikon, and cabbage threads

Julienne and salt-massage the vegetables in separate bowls (they will wilt at varying rates). Taste to ensure they are not too salty (if so, soak in cold water for several minutes and drain), dress with sunomono dressing, and garnish with cracked or whole roasted sesame seeds.

Tako, cucumber, and tomato

Marinate chunks or slices of boiled octopus for at least 1 hour in sunomono dressing, covered and in the fridge. Mix in chunks of cucumber and tomato and serve. Perfect for a hot summer day.

Shrimp and red onion

Using a mandoline, slice red onion into paper-thin rounds. Soak in fresh, cold water for at least 1 – 2 hours (changing the water once or twice) to get rid of any sharpness. Drain well (I like to spin them in a salad spinner) pile elegantly with boiled shrimp or prawns and flavour with sunomono dressing.

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Kate's sunomono salad - Photo credit: Robert Shaer (