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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, November 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dorothy Dean presents Sunomono – a sweet and tangy Japanese cucumber salad delight

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

My hubby’s career as a hockey coach has him gone often on road trips for games. That leaves Sophie, our 8-year-old daughter, and me with plenty of girl time; lots of thrift shopping, park adventures, movies and – our favorite – dinner dates.

Our go-to is Japanese, as we’re both big fans of sushi. While we rotate through numerous rolls, shrimp tempura, yakisoba, ramen and edamame, one staple on our table is sunomono, a Japanese cucumber salad.

A simple mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and sesame seeds marinate the cucumbers in a delicious balance of sweet and tangy flavor. It’s a crisp and refreshing appetizer or side dish and super easy to make.

Cucumbers are thinly sliced with a mandolin or knife, they’re lightly salted and squeezed to remove excess moisture (which would water down the marinade and make for soggy slices – and we want crunch!), and the slices are then tossed in the marinade and chilled for an hour.

While Japanese cucumbers are ideal for this for their crunchiness and seedless texture, they can be difficult to find. English or Persian cucumbers are a great substitute, and I would most definitely choose them over American cucumbers, which have bigger seeds and are too watery.

If you’re an adventurous eater and want to add more texture and flavor, common additions are wakame (seaweed), imitation crab, shrimp and octopus.

Sunomono (Cucumber Salad)

Adapted from

2 English cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Slice cucumbers into thin rounds and place them in a bowl. Stir in salt and let sit for 5 minutes.

Drain and squeeze out excess liquid from the cucumbers.

In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and soy sauce together until the sugar dissolves.

Add vinegar mixture and sesame seeds to prepared cucumbers and mix well.

Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at

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