Kyuri no sunomono (の 物) or kiyuri namasu is a variety of namasu prepared with cucumbers. Namasu is a Japanese dish made of raw vegetables, finely sliced and marinated in vinegar. Vinegar is known as su in Japanese. Hence sunomono generally refers to all vinegar-based dishes.
What is namasu?
The word namasu is derived from the combination of words nama meaning uncooked and su, something that is marinated in vinegar. Namasu consists of thinly sliced vegetables or seafood marinated in rice vinegar, almost like pickling.
Sunomono and namasu are very similar yet different dishes. The ingredients of both are the same and the main difference lies in how long they are marinated in vinegar.
In sunomono, the vinegar acts as a dressing whereas in namasu, ingredients are marinated in vinegar for hours. Depending on the marination time, a dish is known as sunomono or namasu.
What is kyuri sunomono?
Kyuri sunomono translates to cucumber salad. Thinly sliced cucumbers are dressed in a slightly sweet and sour vinegar dressing. They are crunchy, light and refreshing. It is usually served as an appetizer or in between courses of meals, or as a side dish accompanying the main dishes.
Japanese cucumbers also known as kyuri is a common Japanese cooking ingredient. Having a firm crisp texture with no bitterness makes them an important ingredient in the Japanese cuisine. From sushi to salads to pickles, they are commonly used. Japanese cucumbers are mostly small and narrow with less to no seeds and they have a prickly exterior.
They can be difficult to get outside of Japan. The best substitute for this cucumber is Persian cucumber. You can also use cucumbers that are firm and have less seeds.
Removing excess moisture or water content is key to making any variation of sunomono. Sprinkle salt and rest them for a few minutes so the moisture from the ingredients is released and this excess water can be squeezed out.
What is rice vinegar (komezu)?
Rice vinegar is the type of vinegar used in East Asian cuisine. It is made from fermented rice or sake. In Japanese culture, rice vinegar is not only used in cooking but it is also used for weight loss, skincare and also as a beauty product.
Known as komezu in Japanese, rice vinegar is very mild, almost colorless and delicately sweet when compared to standard vinegar used in cooking. This flavor profile makes it suitable to be used as a dressing in salads, marinades, tsukemono (pickles), sunomono (vinegar-based dishes) and nimono (simmered dishes).
What is seasoned vinegar?
Seasoned vinegar is nothing but pre-made vinegar-based condiments or sauces. It is usually made with sake, salt, sugar and vinegar. While there are different types of condiments made from rice vinegar, nihaizu and sanbaizu are the two seasoned vinegars that are extensively used as a salad dressing and marinade in Japanese cuisine.
Nihaizu is a blend of rice vinegar and soy sauce and sometimes dashi (fish broth). While sanbaizu in addition to rice vinegar and soy sauce also has mirin (rice wine) and sugar added to it. Hence it is slightly sweeter than nihaizu.
These seasoned vinegars act as a base for making a variety of salad dressings. They are similar in preparation with almost the same ingredients used in both types. They can be prepared well in advance and stored in the refrigerator. If you have these handy, making sunomono dishes become easy.
What are the varieties of sunomono?
Cucumbers can be substituted with any vegetable or seafood to make sunomono. Kohlrabi, daikon radish, cabbage, carrots, wakame, seafood like shrimp (ebi-sunomono) and crab are all used to make sunomono varieties.
Kyuri no sunomono is one of the simplest salads out there and all the Eastern Asian countries have their version of kyuri no sunomono. Vietnamese and Thai add peanuts, while the Chinese add garlic and crush the cucumber before slicing. But the common ingredient in all the variation is rice vinegar and the natives urge us to not substitute it with anything. That’s the secret ingredient to make the best cucumber salad the East Asian way!
- 4 cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ lemon , freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds , roasted
- Partially peel the cucumbers, leaving strips of green and cut into very thin slices.
- Add the salt to the cucumbers and mix by hand.
- Reserve for 45 minutes, or until cucumbers are soft.
- Transfer the cucumbers to a colander and extract as much liquid as possible.
- Mix the lemon juice, sugar and vinegar in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the drained cucumber and mix to coat.
- Add into small bowls and garnish each serving with sesame seeds.
- Reserve in the refrigerator for 1h30 before tasting.