Sunomono is a light and refreshing Japanese salad made with seafood and vegetables marinated in a vinegar based sauce called "sanbaizu". This addictive dish makes the perfect appetizer or side dish to cleanse the palate!
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What is sunomono?
Sunomono (酢の物) is a simple dish usually made with fish, shellfish, and vegetables mixed with vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. It's refreshing and very easy to make so it's a perfect dish to make in the summer.
"Su" (酢) is the Japanese word for vinegar and "mono" (物) means "thing", so essentially, sunomono means "things in vinegar".
While it's common to make sunomono with cucumber alone (kyuri no sunomono), in Japan, we have many different kinds of sunomono and use a whole range of different ingredients. Seafood and vegetables are most common, for example:
- Wakame (seaweed)
You could also use things like shredded carrot, eggplant, okra, enoki mushrooms, shrimps, and scallops.
Tako to Kyuri no Sunomono (たこときゅうりの酢の物)
Octopus and cucumber sunomono (tako to kyuri no sunomono) is a regional dish from the province of Sanuki in Kagawa Prefecture.
Sanuki is right next to the Seto Inland Sea and is famous for its fresh octopus. Not to mention, the octopus from this region is known to be slightly sweet because of its diet of mainly shrimp and blue crabs. While it can be enjoyed all year round, the peak season is in summer.
In fact, in Japan there is a custom of eating octopus in summer. It is said that the origin of this custom is the hope that the roots of the seedlings planted in the rice paddies will take root firmly in the earth, just like the suckers of an octopus.
Using Sanbaizu (三杯酢)
Sanbaizu is sometimes mixed with dashi or boiled sake. You can use sanbaizu to make many different kinds of sunomono!
We also have another sauce called "nibaizu" (二杯酢) which contains only two ingredients, a 1:1 ratio of soy sauce and vinegar. This can also be used to make sunomono if you can't find mirin (or you don't want to use sugar). Nibaizu is often used as a dipping sauce for gyoza and spring rolls.
Sunomono Salad (with octopus and cucumber)
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp mirin
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp dried wakame seaweed(s)
- 100 g Japanese or Persian cucumber(s)
- ½ tsp salt
- 80 g boiled octopus
- sesame seeds - optional garnish
- Add 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp mirin and 2 tsp rice vinegar to a small pan and heat on medium. Boil for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Add 1 tbsp dried wakame seaweed(s) to a bowl of cold water and soak it for a few minutes to rehydrate.
- Cut 100 g Japanese or Persian cucumber(s) into thin slices, place it in a bowl and add ½ tsp salt. Use your hands to rub the salt over the cucumber and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Cut 80 g boiled octopus into small bitesize pieces or thinly slice according to preference.
- Wash the cucumber under cold water and squeeze out the excess liquid. Drain the water from the wakame and place them in a bowl with the octopus.
- Add the cooled sauce and mix well.
- Dish up and sprinkle with sesame seeds.