Sustainability made simple

Sunomono Recipe (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

Sunomono recipe
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / fabifer

Looking for a refreshing meal or side dish? Our sunomono recipe is perfect for warm evenings and entertaining. Check out our vegan take on this beloved savory dish.

Sometimes simple combinations of delicious flavors are the ticket to a stunning meal or side dish. This sunomono recipe is served cold, joining the likes of the much-loved sushi the Japanese are famous for. Originally sunomoni included crab meat, octopus or shrimp, but with the wide variety of alternatives available, we have swapped out the seafood with tofu for an entirely vegan, plant-based dish.

The key element in any sunomono recipe is vinegar, and the result is similar to a vinaigrette soup or broth. It’s a delightful dish, and one you are very likely to make over and over. If you have a Japanese restaurant near you, or a favorite elsewhere, you may have had the pleasure of sampling this dish before. The ingredients often change slightly according to the region you are in, so what we offer with our sunomono recipe are a couple of quirky variations you can have some fun with.

What's in Vegan Sunomono?

A few organic vegetables will give flavor and be the healthiest option.
A few organic vegetables will give flavor and be the healthiest option.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / photosforyou)

There are a few key ingredients to make sunomono, but others can be altered to taste, or to get the most from local and seasonal vegetables that will complement the dish. Also, make sure to buy organic whenever possible. 

Cucumbers are a must (the clue is in the name, which is translated as Japanese cucumber salad). Find a crunchy cucumber for best results. Other thinly sliced vegetables are also used for taste and texture. We are aiming for a slightly salty texture, so adding seaweed provides this oceanic kick.

Traditional sunomono often includes noodles, though this ingredient is often omitted across the United States. In Canada, rice noodles are a common feature. If you do choose to incorporate noodles, look for thin varieties so you don’t overwhelm the dish.

The broth is important to get right. You don’t want the vinegar to overpower the dish, so we balance this with a little sugar, which extends into the taste of the tofu, of which we have chosen the smoked variety for an added yum factor.

You can add in thinly sliced raw tofu, but crispy tofu can add an additional texture and flavor element to this dish. 

You can easily swap out the cane sugar, for another type, such as coconut, or brown sugar, or even use a sweetener such as agave syrup.

Get creative and experiment with toppings and garnish. Our sunomono recipe calls for sesame seeds, but you could also add torn coriander or other favorites.

Vegan Sunomono Recipe

Smoked tofu is optional but adds to the wow factor of a sunomono recipe.
Smoked tofu is optional but adds to the wow factor of a sunomono recipe.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / SatyaPrem)


  • Dried wakame seaweed, optional
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ⅔ cup water, divided 
  • ⅓ cup cane sugar
  • 2 cups of unsweetened rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 cups cooked rice noodles
  • ¾ cup vegetables of choice – carrots, beets, and green onions work particularly well
  • ½ cup cooked or raw tofu, thinly sliced 
  • Sesame seeds, as garnish 


    1. If using, soak the wakame flakes for 10 minutes.
    2. Rinse and thinly slice the cucumber, and set aside. You can sprinkle very lightly with salt to draw out flavor at this stage.
    3. Boil ⅔ cup water and pour into a bowl, then add in sugar and stir until dissolved. 
    4. Add the rice vinegar, and soy sauce/tamari and stir to combine, then add the cucumber and wakame flakes to the broth liquid.
    5. Add the cooked rice noodles to the broth, then chill the dish for at least 30 minutes, until it is completely cold.
    6. Add the vegetables and tofu, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve in small bowls.

    Tip: try adding some lemon or lime juice to the broth for an extra zing. Or, try adding any other pickled or fermented vegetables to the mix. 

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