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This namasu recipe is probably one of my favorites, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a family recipe!
What is namasu?
Namasu is a vegetable dish that is uncooked and marinated in rice vinegar (su). Think of it as the Japanese pickling method. My namasu consists of cucumbers, so I’m basically making pickles, Japanese-style. Yay!
My grandma taught me this a few years ago, handing down the family tradition so that she could retire and I could take her place. So every New Years (and occasionally whenever the heck I want to), I make this and the makizushi for the relatives and family to enjoy. I hope that you will enjoy it, too!
…But by the way, the recipe down below isn’t the EXACT recipe I use to make my namasu. Come on, I just said that it’s a family recipe, so there’s a secret ingredient (or maybe there isn’t… You’ll never know! Mwahah!) that I’m not adding in. But it’s pretty darn close. 😛 Just add your own flair in it! You’ll do fine.
Making the namasu isn’t hard, but it does require a lot of prep. Because cucumbers shrink so much when salted, the result turns out to be you’ve cut like a bajillion cucumbers and the outcome is a handful, at best. You’ll see what I mean in the pictures below.
Before you can even cut them, though, you gotta peel, cut vertically, and take out the seeds. My grandma decided that she would help me a little with the prep business before retreating to watch more Animal Planet. I told her to smile, and this is the best she would muster. Haha, silly. Thanks, Grandma! <3
Now, the above pictures are just a little under HALF of what I had to prep and salt. See that mountain of cucumbers?
…NOW LOOK AT THEM! See how small the cucumbers get when you salt them? It’s mainly cause cucumbers are made up of a lot of water and the salt extracts the water… Bah. But yeah, you get very little for all the prep you do. *Sad face* At least it’s super tasty~!
Easy Homemade Japanese Cucumber Namasu Recipe
- 10 cucumbers
- ¼ c. Japanese vinegar
- 1 c. Heinz white vinegar
- 3 T mirin
- ½ c. sugar
- Kanikama (imitation crab), opt.
- Mix vinegars, mirin, and sugar together. If the mix is too sour, add a splash of mirin and some more sugar until the sauce makes you pucker slightly, but is not too overly sour. Set aside to marinate.
- Peel cucumbers. Leave some skin on, for show. It should look like dark green stripes next to lighter green stripes.
- Cut cucumber lengthwise and hull out insides.
- Cut cucumber into half moons; deposit into a colander.
- When all cucumbers are cut, add salt to the cucumbers. Put enough to just lightly coat all cucumbers. Set aside for 1 hour.
- After, rinse and wash the cucumbers thoroughly under cold water. Grab a handful of cucumbers, and in a breathable cloth (i.e terry cloth or cheese cloth), wring out the remaining water left in the cucumbers. Set aside in a big bowl. Keep doing this until all cucumbers have been wrung out.
- Mix cucumbers into the vinegar mix. Taste and see if it tastes too salty. If it does, add more sugar and mirin to combat the salt (you accidentally put too much salt, but it's okay).
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, then serve with shredded kanikama (optional). Enjoy!