Two of my favorite school-aged, pre-political hack jobs were waiter gigs at Japanese Restaurants. One was as part of the original crew at Hibachi Steak House in Anaheim Hills, which was (and is) an excellent Benihana knock-off “teppan grill”, and the other was Takanawa’s Sushi Restaurant (sadly no longer in business) in Santa Monica, after I transferred to UCLA. One of my favorite items on the menu, even before I had tried it, was sunomono: Japanese cucumber salad. I liked it because when I said it fast, even I (the whitest white guy around and the only caucasian on staff) could make it sound Japanese–even with a hint of a Japanese accent! Or so I thought, anyways. But it turns out that it was also quite good and refreshing, which was good, because I could then recommend it for a reason other than me just sounding cool saying it (not that I’m above that, mind you).
Anyways, many years and many sushi bar visits since, we were looking for a good Asian-ish side dish other than stir fried vegetables to serve with one of our Asian dishes (Spring rolls? Gyoza/Dumplings? I can’t remember anymore), and sunomono came to mind. We looked at a variety of recipes, and settled on one from EatingWell.com. We tried it and it was easy and tasty and healthy. And while it pairs best with an Asian dish that is begging for a vegetable, it could pair along with bbq, steak, or other meats that need a salad quite nicely as well.
Really it was so easy, and we changed it so little (i.e. not at all) that it fell into that category of dishes I thought were too simple to actually blog about, but between Colleen convincing me otherwise and the need to provide quick and easy content for that slave driver, I figured it was a good one to share!
- 2 medium cucumbers or 1 large English cucumber
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar or splenda (we’ve done it both ways and can’t tell the difference)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (buy already toasted or toast them yourself)
- Peel cucumbers with alternating stripes
- Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise
- Scrape seeds out with a spoon
- Slice as thinly as possible
- Gently squeeze excess water out of cucumbers with paper towels
- Combine vinegar, sugar (or Splenda), and salt in a bowl, stirring to dissolve
- Mix vinegar solution, cucumber slices, and sesame seeds in a bowl
- Serve immediately!