Japanese Cucumber Salad (Sunomono Salad)

5 from 4 votes

If this is your first introduction to sunomono, you are in for a treat!  This classic Japanese salad is a mouthwatering combination of crunchy cucumbers, crisp bell peppers, and fresh herbs with tender and succulent shrimp. These fresh ingredients are tossed with a bright, tangy sesame vinegar dressing with just the right amount of zesty heat.

plate of japanese sunomono salad with cucumbers and shrimp

This recipe for sunomono salad is simple to make and bursting with flavor. It’s the perfect dish to make for a light, lively appetizer or side dish. It also makes a great on-the-go lunch or snack for hot summer days. I’m adding cooked shrimp to this to bulk it up a little and make it a full meal.

I tend to start making lots of this Japanese cucumber salad when the cucumbers from my garden start piling up. If you have other veggies kicking around, go ahead and toss them in the mix too!

You don’t have to wait for harvest season either. Make this scrumptious dish anytime you want a light meal that will fill you up without slowing you down!

For more cucumber salads, check out  Pai Huang Gua (Chinese Cucumber Salad), Cucumber Yogurt Salad (Mast o Khiar), and Shirazi Salad with Chickpeas.

map of japan

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Shrimp – These succulent seafood morsels add a salty, slightly sweet flavor. I use cooked, medium-sized shrimp, but other sizes are okay. Just make sure the shrimp are deveined with the tails and shells off. 
  • Cucumbers – Japanese cucumbers, also called kyuri, are thin-skinned and slender with small seeds and a melon-like flavor. They are the ideal choice for sunomono salad but are sometimes hard to find. Persian or English cucumbers are good substitutes. 
  • Cilantro – Adds a dash of bright, lemony, and peppery flavor plus a dazzling green color. 
  • Bell Pepper I like green bell peppers for their sharp, slightly bitter flavor and exceptional crunch. You can choose red, orange, or yellow peppers if you want to add some color and a touch of peppery sweetness. 
  • Garlic – Chopped cloves add pungency and a hint of spiciness. Powdered garlic can be used in a pinch, but start with a small amount and adjust as needed. 
  • Serrano Chiles Bring the dressing to life with a zesty bite of heat. 
  • Lime Juice – Brightens up the entire dish with a pop of acidity and fresh citrus flavor. Make sure you use fresh lime juice for maximum flavor. 
  • Vinegar – Rice wine vinegar is the classic choice for sunomono dishes for its mild tanginess and sweetness. Check the international aisle or look for it at a local Asian market.  
  • Fish Sauce Adds deep umami, salty, and sweet flavors all at once. You can omit this ingredient if needed or sub in soy sauce. 
  • Red Pepper Bring a smoky, spicy flavor and a brilliant dash of red color. 
  • Mint Leaves Highlights the other flavors in the dish with a pop of sweet, cooling flavor.
overhead: 3 plates of marinated cucumber salad with shrimp

How to Make Japanese Sunomono Cucumber Salad

  1. Make the Dressing. Use a small bowl to combine the vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, (optional) fish sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and mint leaves. Whisk the mixture together. Stir in the chopped garlic cloves and serrano chile peppers and set aside.
  2. Combine Other Ingredients. Combine the cooked shrimp, green bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, and sliced cucumber in a medium bowl.   
  3. Add the Dressing. Pour the freshly made dressing over your shrimp and cucumber mixture. Toss to combine. 
  4. Garnish, Serve, and Enjoy. Serve sunomono with plenty of extra chopped cilantro, mint leaves, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
plate of seafood sunomono

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Sunomono Mean?


Sunomono is a Japanese word that translates to vinegared things. Sunomono salad consists of chopped vegetables and herbs that are dressed with a rice vinegar and citrus-based dressing. These vinegary salads are served in small bowls before meals as an appetizer or alongside meals as a side dish. 

They can be made with almost any vegetable under the sun but are most commonly made with Japanese cucumbers. Some recipes, like this Japanese cucumber salad, contain ingredients like shrimp, crab, or other seafood and are referred to as “seafood sunomono.”  

How Do You Keep Cucumbers From Getting Soggy in Sunomono Salad?


Keeping these veggies crisp in Japanese cucumber salad, or any salad, can be a bit tricky. Their high moisture content makes them crisp and delicious but can lead to mushy, soggy leftovers if you aren’t careful.

Luckily, this is easily avoided with a little foresight. I recommend slicing your cucumbers a bit in advance. Place them in a colander and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Allow about 15-20 minutes for the salt to do its osmosis magic. It will draw out any excess moisture and set you up for success. 

How Long Does Sunomono Last in the Fridge?


Store any leftover sunomono in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. The salad will lose a bit of its crunchiness the longer it sits, even if you used the salt trick we just discussed. Don’t worry, though — more time in the refrigerator means more time to marinate in the insanely delicious dressing! Your taste buds will be so happy, you’ll barely miss the crunch.

Tip From Kevin

Can’t find Japanese cucumbers?

Japanese cucumbers are crisp, crunchy, and succulent with bright, melon-like flavors. If unable to find Japanese cucumbers, use a seedless variety with very thin skin, such as English Hothouse or Persian cucumbers.

close up of japanese cucumber sunomono salad

Share this recipe on Pinterest!

Love this recipe? Share it with the world on Pinterest.

plate of japanese sunomono salad with cucumbers and shrimp

Japanese Sunomono Salad

5 from 4 votes
My Japanese sunomono salad is a refreshing dish featuring crisp cucumbers and succulent shrimp tossed in a vinegary, spicy-sweet dressing.
Servings: 4
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes

Ingredients 

Salad

  • 1 lb cooked medium shrimp deveined, shells and tails removed
  • 2 Japanese cucumbers sliced thinly (See Note 1)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper thinly diced

Dressing

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl ,whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce (optional), salt, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and mint. Stir in the garlic and chile and set aside.
  • To a medium sized bowl, add cooked shrimp, sliced cucumbers, cilantro, green onion and bell pepper. Pour dressing over and toss to combine. Serve with more cilantro and or mint leaves with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Refrigerate covered if not eating right away.

Notes

  1. If unable to find Japanese cucumbers, use a seedless variety with very thin skin, such as English or Persian cucumbers.

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1180mg | Potassium: 487mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 848IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: salads
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image: japanese cucumber shrimp salad

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

Free Bonus
Kevin's Guide to Amazing International Cooking
My secrets to authentic & delicious international recipes

Explore More

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    this is a great recipe, delicious and uses a lot of staples.
    i used tiger prawns I cooked in shells in evoo, sesame oil, sambal oelek, and fresh garlic
    I only had American cukes on hand, so I peeled a few strips, leaving some skin, to try to balance out the thicker skin.

  2. 5 stars
    What a delicious and easy recipe! I plan to cook my way around the world on your amazing website! Thank you so much.

  3. 5 stars
    Recent additions are DELIGHTFUL Kevin.. My guests are raving nd anxious to revew your site and get connected with your genius! Best wishes to you always, Estelle Macdonald