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What is Sunomono?
Sunomono (酢の物) is a simple Japanese dish made with fish, shellfish, and vegetables mixed with vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. It’s a refreshing and easy-to-make dish, perfect for the summer.
The word “su” (酢) means vinegar, and “mono” (物) means “thing,” so sunomono means “things in vinegar.”
Octopus and cucumber sunomono (tako to kyuri no sunomono) is a regional dish from Sanuki, a province in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. Sanuki is located near the Seto Inland Sea and is famous for its fresh octopus. 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 summer.
In Japan, there is a custom of eating octopus in the summer. The origin of this custom is said to be 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.
How I Developed This Recipe
Sunomono is special in Japanese cuisine, particularly cherished in traditional households like grandparents’. With its distinctive sourness, this classic side dish creates a harmonious blend when paired with the crispness of cucumber and the tender chewiness of octopus.
The beauty of sunomono lies in its simplicity and the way it complements a wide range of meals, providing a refreshing contrast to richer dishes.
I encourage you to try making it yourself and savor the unique, sour zest that makes this dish a beloved staple in Japanese homes!
Ingredients & Substitution Ideas
- Soy Sauce: Kikkoman soy sauce is a reliable and affordable choice that’s well-suited for Japanese dishes. Consider consulting my comprehensive soy sauce guide for further insights into the best soy sauce selection.
- Mirin: Seek out “hon mirin” (本みりん) for a genuine flavor. Hinode Hon Mirin is both high-quality and budget-friendly. For additional information on mirin, including substitutes, a Mirin 101 article is a helpful resource.
- Vinegar: Unseasoned rice vinegar is highly recommended, with grain vinegar and red vinegar as alternatives. A guide on essential Japanese condiments and seasonings can be useful for exploring recommended brands.
- Dried Wakame Seaweeds: Preferred for their accessibility and ease of storage, though fresh wakame can also be used if available.
- Cucumber: Japanese or Persian cucumbers are ideal.
- Boiled Octopus: Commonly sold pre-boiled in Japan. If using raw octopus, ensure to boil it beforehand.
- Sesame Seeds: An optional garnish that adds a subtle nutty flavor and decorative touch.
Curious about the exact brands and products that bring my recipes to life? Discover the brands and ingredients behind my recipes at the Sudachi Amazon Storefront. Explore my handpicked pantry essentials and find your next kitchen favorites!Jump to Full Recipe Measurements
Visual Walkthrough & Tips
Here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make Octopus and Cucumber Sunomono at home. For ingredient quantities and simplified instructions, scroll down for the Printable Recipe Card below.
In a small pan, combine soy sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar.
Place the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
After boiling, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
Place dried wakame seaweed in a bowl of cold water. Soak for a few minutes until it’s fully rehydrated.
Cut Japanese or Persian cucumber into thin slices. Transfer the slices to a bowl.
Add salt to the cucumber slices. Gently rub the salt over the cucumber using your hands. Let it sit for 5 minutes to draw out moisture.
Take the boiled octopus and cut it into small bite-size pieces or thin slices, according to your preference.
Wash the salted cucumber under cold water. Squeeze out the excess liquid to ensure the cucumber is not too watery.
Drain the rehydrated wakame thoroughly.
In a bowl, combine the cucumber, wakame, and octopus. Add the cooled sauce from earlier and mix everything well to ensure an even coating.
Dish up the mixture into serving bowls.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds for an added nutty flavor and texture.Jump to Full Recipe Measurements
I hope you enjoy this Tako to Kyuri no Sunomono recipe! If you try it out, I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
More Japanese Side Recipes
Sunomono Salad (with octopus and cucumber)
- 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.