Washoku Wednesday: Tsukemono (Japanese pickles)


Food blogger Courtney shares a fantastic recipe for yuzu-flavored pickles today – I know what I’m making this weekend!

Tsukemono, or Japanese pickles, took awhile to win me over. I would usually push them aside from my curry or rice not wanting them to impart their flavor on anything I was eating. I’m not a bread-and-butter or kosher pickle fan so I just assumed I disliked these as well. With some coaxing from my husband, I finally tried them and realized that they are a lot more subdued in flavor than American pickles.

Tsukemono is typically served as a side to rice, as a snack with drinks, garnishes, or during kaiseki course meals. The vegatables are typically pickled in salt or brine to preserve. Some traditional vegetables that are used in the pickling process are daikon, ginger, cucumber, carrots, plums, lotus root, and onions.

Some common ones are gari which is pickled ginger served with sushi or umeboshi which is pickled plums.

As you know, I have a love for yuzu so when I was researching pickles for an upcoming tea ceremony party, I jumped on the opportunity to make yuzu-scented pickled vegetables. They were super easy to pull together and tasted delicious. Everyone at the tea party enjoyed them as well.

Yuzu scented winter pickles
From Just Bento
Prep time: 10 minutes

2 English cucumbers (the long kind that often comes shrink-wrapped in plastic), cut in half lengthwise, de-seeded and cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1/8” / 1/4 cm thickness)
3-4 cabbage leaves, roughly chopped (including the ribs, which can be thinly sliced and added)
1 small piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
The peel of 1/4 yuzu fruit OR 2 teaspoons dried yuzu peel OR a piece of grapefruit peel plus a piece of lemon peel (unwaxed) without the white pith
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons yuzu juice OR lemon juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon instant dashi stock granules (optional)

Note: When you take the peel off the fruit, take care to leave off the white pith, which will impart a bitter flavor. You just want the flavorful oils that are in the peel.

Put all the ingredients inside a large, sturdy plastic ziplock bag. Close securely, taking out as much air as possible. Gently massage the bag so that the seasonings permeate the vegetables and the peel(s) release their oils, while you turn the bag over several times.

Leave the bag in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Drain off any liquid before packing into a bento box, or use a leak-proof side container. If you think it needs more seasoning, add a tiny bit of salt or soy sauce.

This will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, right in the bag. Turn the bag over whenever you remember to (at least once a day or so).

from Just Hungry
I’ll admit that I included this one because umeboshi is a popular flavor but I am not a fan. This is the recipe that a few friends have used and had success with.

Gari, or Pickled Ginger
from Just One Cookbook
Who doesn’t love the cleansing flavors of this pickle in between sushi dishes? I swear my husband eats his weight in gari each time we’re at the sushi-go-round!

Yuzu Daikon Pickles
From Food Sake Tokyo
This was my first attempt at pickles after doing a tour with Yukari from Food Sake Tokyo. She introduced me to yuzu daikon pickles and I couldn’t get enough. She sent me this recipe and I made it several times that winter. As mentioned in the article, it is awesome in sandwiches like banh mi sandwiches.

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