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Sunomono (酢の物), which literally means “vinegared dish” is a traditional Japanese side dish which is made with cucumbers among other things. We have made several versions of Sunomono for the Friendship Dinner including one year when we made a spicy version by adding chili peppers. The basic cucumber version that we make at the Friendship Dinner is described below. Additions of shrimp, crab, carrots and cabbage are common.

Japanese cucumber are long and have a thin skin. If you can’t find a Japanese cucumber, English or Persian cucumber are better than a standard American cucumber. If using an American cucumber remove the seeds and it will make the cucumber less watery. For the Friendship Dinner, where we prepare meals for 200+ guest, we use over 30 cucumbers depending on the type. The recipe below has been reduced to make four 2/3 cup portions.

The key to the recipe is to slice the cucumbers thin using a mandolin and removing excess water from the cut cucumbers. Most Japanese cooks don’t use a recipe but rather add ingredients to taste. Personally, I like to add additional sesame oil and mirin (sweet sake). – Beth Lamb


  • 1 Japanese cucumber or 3 Persian cucumbers
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon Japanese rice vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet cooking sake) or sugar dissolved in the rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • *Optional rehydrated wakame seaweed.


  1. Thin slice cucumbers with mandolin.
  2. Salt cucumbers and set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Drain liquid created by salting the cucumbers. Taste cucumbers (if too salty rinse with water and drain the cucumbers). Squeeze all liquid out of cucumbers.
  4. Mix remaining ingredients (vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil). Taste the dressing add extra sesame or mirin as appropriate.
  5. Toss the dressing and cucumbers.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve cold.