Japanese Vinegared Cucumber

Japanese Vinegared Cucumber

This is a refreshing and simple recipe for the ubiquitous Japanese side dish that seems to go well with anything. The sanbaizu, or “three flavors vinegar” dressing, is a delicate balance between sweet, sour, and salty but doesn’t overwhelm the clean and mild flavors of cucumber.

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recipe adapted from Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

Vinegared Cucumber
きゅうりの酢もみ (Kyuri no Sumomi)

Cucumbers, in paper-thin slices
salt, to taste


  • I tried to bring out my inner Morimoto but uniformly slicing cucumber into paper thin slices is more difficult than it seems. My trusty Benriner Mandoline will have to do for now.

Season the cucumber slices and knead lightly for a minute. Let stand in a bowl while preparing the sanbaizu.

Three Flavors Vinegar Dressing
三杯酢 (Sanbaizu)

1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup dashi
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar


  • If you plan to cook Japanese dishes frequently, consider getting instant dashi at your local Asian grocery store. A teaspoon of this granulated bonito flake and kombu seasoning will be enough to make 3 to 4 cups of fully flavored stock in minutes. Instant dashi is also known as dashi-no-moto or hon-dashi.

Combine all the sanbaizu ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer while mixing. Once the sugar is dissolved, cool the dressing rapidly by pouring into a bowl set in a larger bowl filled with ice water.

To Serve:

Drain the cucumbers. Pour enough sanbaizu to moisten the cucumber slices. Gently squeeze and drain a second time to eliminate excess wateriness. Serve at room temperature and add more sanbaizu if desired.

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17 Responses to “Japanese Vinegared Cucumber”

  1. magpie says:

    I love this dish. I order it almost every time I go to a Japanese restaurant… I’ve never made it though. Thanks for the recipe – I’ll definitely try it soon :)

  2. Susan says:

    Gorgeous, clean flavors for summer. Cucumber is always so cooling and virtually calorie free. Your dressing moves this recipe from side dish to the center of the plate. Love the simplicity and elegance.

  3. ces says:

    you made me drool again! simple as it is and perfect for what i crave for now! i’ll have to go get that dashi-no-moto! arigato!happy bbq-full 4th!

  4. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    How beautiful cucumbers can be. When they’re thinly sliced like that, and in a simple dressing, they can be perfect.

  5. Haley W. says:

    Wow – that sounds delicious. I have an abundance of cucumbers this summer, and am endeavoring to be creative with them. I will have to add this to the list!

    last blog post: Indian Feast: Chicken Curry Over Cucumber & Turmeric Rice

  6. Laura Hirosawa says:

    Another take on this is what we call ’sunomono’ which means vinegared pickles. After setting the cucumbers in salt, mix together vinegar, sugar and soy sauce (I can’t remember the exact measurements, but I can check later), and pour it on. Cut up some wakame and throw that in. Mix it all together and you’re done! The sauce is really yummy, too, so we usually pour it on top.

  7. Laura, Sounds interesting. Do you need to let it sit for a while or is it ready to serve immediately after mixing?

  8. jinky says:

    yummy post!

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