Cucumber and Imitation Crab Sunomono: A Simple Japanese Salad Recipe
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.
- 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.
- 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
- Wash and slice cucumbers thinly.
- Put the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with half the salt.
- Mix to combine and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- With your hands, squeeze out as much excess water from the cucumbers as you possibly can. Drain and discard the excess liquid.
- Return the cucumbers back into the bowl.
- Add rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix to combine well.
- Garnish with shredded imitation crab and black sesame seeds.