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Cucumber and Imitation Crab Sunomono: A Simple Japanese Salad Recipe

This salad is so easy to make, it was one of the first things my mother taught me to make when I was a mere child.

Sunomono is a traditional Japanese salad that is usually served, with other dishes, alongside rice.

Sunomono is a traditional Japanese salad that is usually served, with other dishes, alongside rice.

The Versatile Cucumber

There are many reasons why cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables. Not only are they very low in calories and exceptionally hydrating on a hot summer day, they are one of the most versatile vegetables found in the supermarket produce section.

Sure, it's easy to eat them raw in salads, but I find eating them this way quickly becomes boring. When I see cucumbers in a salad bar, I usually pass them over. It's easy to just chop them and add them to salads, but there are better ways to make use of this crunchy vegetable.

One of the easiest and most refreshing side dishes, the sunomono (literally, vinegared food) is a staple in most Japanese households. In fact, it's so easy to make, sunomono was one of the first things my mother taught me to make when I was a mere child.

I remember begging her to let me help out in the kitchen, and as I was too young to play with fire, she would let me help squeeze out the excess water from the cucumbers. As I was only six or seven years old and didn't have much strength, she always ended up having to finish squeezing out the excess liquid that results from the salting process.

Having said that, making sure to get as much liquid as possible out of the cucumbers is probably the most difficult part of the recipe. The rest is almost too easy.

Helpful Tips

  • Squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible from the cucumbers. Use your hands for best results.
  • Japanese cucumbers are best because they have fewer seeds in them. If you can't find them, you may use regular cucumbers.
  • Rice vinegar is essential for authentic results. If not, cider vinegar is a good substitute.

Preparation Time

Prep timeReady inYields

15 min

15 min

2

Ingredients

  • 2 cucumbers (preferably Japanese), sliced
  • 1/2 cup imitation crab, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Wash and slice cucumbers thinly.
  2. Put the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with half the salt.
  3. Mix to combine and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  4. With your hands, squeeze out as much excess water from the cucumbers as you possibly can. Drain and discard the excess liquid.
  5. Return the cucumbers back into the bowl.
  6. Add rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix to combine well.
  7. Garnish with shredded imitation crab and black sesame seeds.

Did You Like This Recipe?

Video Tutorial

Don't Forget to Leave Me a Note!

LornsA178 on January 16, 2020:

Simple recipe but looks delicious! I would like to try this healthy salad. Thanks!

Kylyssa Shay from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on October 09, 2016:

I had to come back to say that this salad has become a favorite in my home. I fixed it for my roommate yesterday and thought about how glad I was you shared this simple, delicious recipe as it's something she still eats while undergoing chemotherapy. She likes it that much and it's one of those precious foods her medication doesn't make taste weird for her. Thank you!

Blackspaniel1 on May 17, 2015:

I see your images indicate you also consider the presentation very important. when it looks good it tastes great.

Dianna Mendez on November 09, 2014:

Good to find a recipe that uses imitation crab. I prefer the real deal, but my hubby occasionally picks up the imitation. I am sure he would love this recipe idea.

Susan from India on October 22, 2014:

Wow.. This looks fabulous. Thanks for the recipe.

debW07 on October 12, 2014:

This sounds delicious and very healthy, too.

Marianne Gardner from Pacific NW, USA on September 23, 2014:

Your salad looks very appetizing! Very elegant. Sounds delicious with milder rice vinegar.

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on September 15, 2014:

Wow! This sounds really delicious! I'll have to give it a try.

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 15, 2014:

Arachnea yes you can definitely use real crab. I used imitation because it's cheaper but real crab would make it even better! Let me know how it turns out. Thanks for the kind words. ;)

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 15, 2014:

Kylyssa so glad you liked it!

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 15, 2014:

LofnsA178 it really is super simple to make and yummy too

Tanya Jones from Texas USA on September 13, 2014:

This looks absolutely delish and so easy to make. I'll have to put this on the list of things to make for my friends. I didn't see an answer to this. Would it be okay to use real crab? Your photos are awesome.

Kylyssa Shay from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 12, 2014:

It was delicious! I added a sprinkling of fresh chopped chives but it was yummy before I did that.

Lorna from USA on September 12, 2014:

It looks so good! What is nice is, it's very simple to make. Good salad to make when you're in a hurry.

KonaGirl from New York on September 11, 2014:

yea, no!

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 11, 2014:

Kailua-KonaGirl, ohhh teriyaki meat sticks sound good just about now.

KonaGirl from New York on September 11, 2014:

I make it with wakame and similar to namasu because my husband doesn't like imitation crab. It is a great way to eat up the cucumbers in our garden and a fabulous side for teriyaki meat sticks!

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 10, 2014:

tazzytamar, thanks so much!

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 10, 2014:

Kylyssa thanks for visiting. Let me know how yours turn out!

Anna from chichester on September 10, 2014:

This looks soo yummy :)

Kylyssa Shay from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 09, 2014:

My roommate makes a delicious cucumber salad without the crab or sesame seeds and we love both those things so this sounds amazing. I'm getting the ingredients when I go shopping today! Thank you for sharing this simple but delightful recipe.

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 09, 2014:

Rhonda, I hope you try this one out. Thanks for visiting!

Shinichi Mine (author) from Tokyo, Japan on September 09, 2014:

Merrci this is one of the most refreshing salads on earth. Hope you enjoy!

Rhonda Lytle from Deep in the heart of Dixie on September 04, 2014:

This sounds really good on a hot summer day. Thank you for something new to do with cucumbers. Typically, it's just salads. Neat!

Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on September 04, 2014:

Looks so good! Will definitely try this for the cucumbers and the crab. Looks very refreshing too.