Cucumber and Wakame Salad

Sliced cucumbers by a knife
Andrew Dernie/Photodisc/Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins

Sunomono is usually a light, vinegared salad made with cucumbers. This is a sunomono made with wakame, or seaweed, and cucumber. It is served as part of Japanese meals and is especially good with seafood. The combination of cucumber and wakame is one of the most popular types of Sunomono. You too can make this simple and tasty dish at home.

If you have a mandolin or vegetable slicer, it’s a breeze to make this. But even if not, you can still slice cucumbers the old way, with a knife. 

Sunomono can also refer to vinegared salads made with other raw vegetables (i.e., turnips, daikon, radishes, celery, cabbage) and sometimes seafood as well. “Su” is the Japanese word for vinegar.

The vinegar of choice is rice vinegar. Fermented from rice, rice vinegar plays an essential role in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cuisines. Less acidic than most Western vinegar, rice vinegar has a mild and slightly sweet flavor. Seasoned rice vinegar is often referred to as “sushi vinegar” as it includes sugar and salt, the three ingredients used to flavor rice for sushi. 

When preparing sunomono, the key is to first remove any excess moisture from whichever vegetables you use.

  • Slice the vegetables
  • Sprinkle with salt and mix together.
  • Let sit over a strainer for about 10 minutes to begin drawing out the moisture.
  • Use your hands to squeeze out additional moisture.
  • Gently mix with the dressing and other salad ingredients.

Japanese cuisine has embraced edible sea vegetables, particularly nutrient-rich seaweed, for centuries because they contain the widest variety of minerals of any vegetable group. With its subtly sweet flavor and silky-smooth texture, wakame stands out as a favorite. It is most often incorporated into soups, such as Miso soup and salads such as this recipe for sunomono. Wakame most often comes dried and in need of rehydrating before using. Dried wakame can be purchased “ready-to-use” or in larger pieces in need of trimming.


  • 1 small cucumber (sliced into thin rounds)
  • 2 oz. rehydrated and softened wakame seaweed (cut into about 2-inch lengths)
  • 4 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Put the cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle salt over.

  2. Set aside for about 5 minutes.

  3. Squeeze cucumber slices to remove the liquid.

  4. Mix vinegar and sugar in a bowl.

  5. Add cucumber and wakame in the bowl and mix well.

Recipe Variation

  • You should also consider wakame kyuri su—a simple, delicious salad of wakame seaweed and fresh cucumbers with a delicate sesame dressing. The ingredients are simple—cucumbers, dried wakame seaweed, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sea salt and a little bit of honey or maple syrup.