Sunomono has always been one of my favorite salads. It's just Japanese quick pickles with seaweed and a dashi sauce, but it's so light and refreshing. It's sweet and savory with an herbal quality as well. It makes a perfect summer salad and a great accompaniment to any meal. If necessary, you can make it a couple days ahead of time too and the pickles will keep their fantastic crunch.
Traditionally, you want to use Japanese cucumbers that have been rubbed with kosher salt to remove the bitterness. They're relatively small and very thin, but they can occasionally be hard to find in your grocery store. You should not use regular cucumbers, but you can use English cucumbers (the hydroponically grown ones wrapped in plastic). The salad is traditionally dressed with Sanbaizu, meaning "three flavors".
- 5 very firm Japanese or English cucumbers, sliced
- 2 or 3 shiso leaves
- wakame seaweed to taste
- kosher salt
- Sanbaizu dressing (recipe follows)
- Slice cucumbers very thin on a mandolin and salt liberally with kosher salt. They should taste oversalted.
- After about 20 minutes, squeeze the cucumbers in your hands. The salt will draw out the water and make the cucumbers crunchy. If the cucumbers aren't crunchy yet, leave them for another 10 minutes. If they're too salty, rinse them in water and squeeze. The cucumbers can be made about 4 days ahead if you squeeze the water out every day.
- When you want to serve the cucumbers, take a couple tablespoons of dried wakame seaweed and rehydrate them in cool water. Squeeze the water out and toss with the cucumbers as much as desired (about 2 parts cucumber to 1 part seaweed)
- Chiffonade the shiso and mix with the cucumbers and seaweed.
- Dress the salad with sanbaizu and garnish with sesame seeds.
- 3/4 cup dashi
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp mirin
- Mix all ingredients together and serve.