This magnificent side-dish (or meal-sized if you believe in yourself) is cold, refreshing, and of course entirely plant-based. A sunomono salad roughly translates to Japanese Vinegar Salad (or, “vinegared” food)- it’s kind of like sweetened vinegar soup, in a way, since the food is often in a small to large amount of “broth”. It’s delicious.
Sunomono salad is often available in Japanese sushi restaurants as an appetizer or side dish, and what it contains will depend on what region you are in. In Canada it contains rice noodles, cucumber, and possibly some other form of seafood topping (like octopus or shrimp, if you’re not eating it vegan). In the USA, Sunomono salad often omits the noodles and will be cucumbers and optionally some seafood on top. So it’s naturally vegan as long as you do the “plain” non-seafood version of the salad.
It’s actually one of my favorite things in a sushi restaurant, before and after my vegan transition. I’ve never cared for the seafood, always after those lovely pickled noodles. Here are a couple I’ve had at local restaurants:
And after I made this recipe, putting my own to shame – this! Mad props to the chef:
Sunomono salad is very easy to make; however, I find that I am always working on it to adjust the broth. It’s subtle, but noticeable because it’s the critical element of the entire recipe. Every restaurant is slightly different, sometimes very much so. So do play around when you make this to suit it to your own taste. Often the sugar and citrus elements are what is different. The tamari/soy sauce is optional and often not used – I leave this up to you. Try it both ways!
The noodles are of great importance too. There are many, many varieties of rice noodles available. I prefer to use the thicker rice stick noodles in this dish, although you will find a variety of types used between restaurants (in Canada, at least). Most restaurants will vary what kind they use, and what you prefer will be unique. So again, play around with this and figure out what you prefer. It will make a big difference in the result! I recently found sunomono salad noodles (specifically sold as such, apparently) in a local asian market.
Important note – if you are concerned about the sugar, do remember you do not drink the broth so your actual consumption of this will be less than the amount in the nutritional value.
Sunomono Salad (Low Fat, Vegan)
- 2 cups rice noodles Sunomono noodles, cooked.
- 1/2 cup cucumbers sliced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt optional
- 2 cups rice vinegar Plain/unseasoned
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar Your choice, to taste. Can sub liquid stevia if desired.
- 1 tsp soy sauce Optional. Sub tamari or coconut aminos.
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice Optional.
- Lemon wedge
- Slice the cucumbers. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional). Set aside.
- Boil water, and pour 1/2 cup into a bowl, add the sugar, and whisk until dissolved. Add remaining broth ingredients in large bowl and combine.
- Rinse cucumbers, then add to broth to marinate.
- Cook the noodles according to package direction. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes.
- Drain noodles and rinse well.
- Add the noodles to the broth, add additional seasoned vinegar if desired, and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Make and add additional broth if desired. The kind of noodles you use and length of chilling can impact how much broth you will need (if a small amount is needed, I'll often just add a bit of water).
Alterations and substitutes
If you are not keen on the noodles, make this an entirely vegetable dish. Add some slivered onions to your cucumbers, or get creative with some other non-traditional options (such as perhaps some avocado? Pickled avocado is a thing!)
The amount of sweetness varies quite a bit between restaurants. I always enjoy a sweet broth the most, however I have skewed towards less sweetness in this recipe. Play with your ratios to taste. (And as above, remember you are not eating all the broth – some will be left in the bowl – so your actual value will be less).
I prefer mine with a hint of lemon. The lemon juice in this recipe can be omitted entirely (it often isn’t included, I just always enjoy lemon when it’s served this way in a restaurant so I added it to the recipe), or you might just want to serve it with a slice of lemon for garnish.
Check out these recipes for some other takes on sunomono salad (note that this is not a vegan resource, so you will come across seafood and so on).
You may want to adjust the sweetness, and remember the amount noted in the recipe will vary depending on what sweetener you use in the sunomono salad.
Have you had sunomono salad? What ingredients do you enjoy in it?
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Looks delish. Can’t Wait to make it . 🙂
Thanks for sharing – wonderful write up..
So darn delicious – I made it and it was fantastic! Thank you for sharing
Jen @ Plant Based Recipe
Thank you for letting us know! I’m so glad you liked it!
Is this like the sunomono in Vancouver? I’m having such a hard time finding a recipe for sunomono found in japanese restaurants here, it seems to be made differently every where else in the world.
Yep that was the inspiration! We always ate sunomono in Vancouver in our 20s and missed it immensely moving away. Did my best to replicate.
Could I substitute sugar with mirin ? What ratio should it be ?
Can’t wait to try it! How long will it keep in the fridge?