Sunomono salad is a healthy, refreshing, sweet and sour cucumber dish. Make this simple recipe for shrimp cucumber salad for an easy appetizer, side salad, or main dish!
Typically, the late summer months arrive with a bumper crop of fresh cucumbers in my garden. This time of the year, I’m always thinking of new and delicious ways to use them.
Fortunately, cucumber salads are popular in countries all along the ancient silk road trade route. From Lebanese salad to Persia’s mast o khiar, Chinese pai huang gua, and sunomono, a Japanese cucumber salad.
Cuisine: Asian / Japanese
Japanese cucumbers (known in Japan as Kyuri) are used to make a variety of delicious dishes, from sushi and a variety of salads, to cucumber gazpacho, and a cold cucumber miso soup called hirajiyu.
Pronunciation: soo - NO - mo - no
Course: Salad (appetizer, side, or main entree)
Recipe Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Sunomono refers to a variety of Japanese, vinegar-based dishes. The Japanese word “su” translated to English means “vinegar”. The most popular version is made with very thin slices of Japanese cucumbers. When shrimp, crab, and/or other seafood are added, the dish is called seafood sunomono.
Using thinly sliced cucumbers isn't a requirement for the salad, but slicing them thinly does make it easier for the cukes to soak up the vinegar dressing.
There are cooked shrimp in today’s recipe, which makes it perfect for an entree size dinner salad. Of course, the shrimp cucumber salad could be served as an appetizer if you’d like.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
NOTE: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the complete list, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Also, the ingredients for this recipe can be adapted to suit your taste preferences. Treat your seafood sunomono just as you would any salad recipe. If you want to add veggies, use different ones, and/or omit the shrimp, you can absolutely do that!
Japanese cucumbers are known in Japan as Kyuri. Long and slender, they're similar to seedless English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers, but the skin usually has a deeper green color.
The most important thing is to use cucumbers with small to no seeds and very thin skin. Using American slicing cucumbers is not recommended. Not only are the seeds too large, but the skin is too waxy and bitter tasting.
To keep things simple, I use frozen, precooked shrimp. This way, all that needs to be done is to thaw them and remove the shells and tails. I use medium sized shrimp but feel free to use a different size, depending on if you’ll be serving the sunomono salad as an appetizer or entree.
If you prefer to use uncooked shrimp (fresh or frozen), you can cook them any way you wish. After cooking, I suggest chilling the shrimp before adding them to the salad.
Salad Dressing Ingredients
- Rice vinegar- This ingredient is also known as rice wine vinegar. It’s used almost exclusively in Japanese cucumber dishes because it’s less acidic and has a milder flavor than distilled vinegars.
- Serrano chiles- For a spicy kick to go with the sweet and sour flavors, I add a chopped serrano chile to the dressing. Feel free to omit it, or use a spicier chile if you want more heat.
- Lime juice- Please use freshly squeezed lime juice. Bottled lime juice is made from a concentrate and the flavor pales in comparison to fresh juice. You could even use fresh orange or lemon juice if you prefer.
How to Eat Sunomono Salad
Whether you serve it as an appetizer, side dish, or entree salad is completely up to you. As a main entree, it’s delicious served on a bed of steamed rice.
If you’ll be making this recipe for an appetizer, consider serving it in martini glasses or shrimp cocktail cups. It makes a beautiful presentation!
For an impressive, delicious, and healthy dessert, make mung bean cake!
Sunomono Salad (Shrimp Cucumber Salad)
- 1 lb cooked medium shrimp deveined, shells and tails removed
- 2 Japanese cucumbers sliced thinly (See Note 1)
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper thinly diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Serrano chile pepper seeded and minced
- ¼ cup lime juice approximately 3 limes
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp sesame seeds white, black, or combination
- 8 mint leaves chopped
- 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.
- If unable to find Japanese cucumbers, use a seedless variety with very thin skin, such as English or Persian cucumbers.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.