Tsukemono – Term of the Week

Satomi is from Japan.  She knows exploring food and cooking happens at my house and always brings something new when we get together to catch up.

I’ve had a variety of unknown items at Japanese restaurants.  I spend hours hunting around Oto’s, our local Japanese marketplace for the new and unfamiliar.  But I never knew what tsukemono was until Satomi shared her freshly made cucumber tsukemono.

Inspired by the clean taste, I wanted to make my own.  Consulting with the Japanese Country Cookbook
opened the world of tsukemono.

Satomi’s favorite way to eat tsukemono is for lunch with a bowl of hot or cold rice and a cup of tea.  Sure enough, a common noon meal in Japan is to eat a pickle of some sort.  And there are several varieties, the most popular being Hakusai No Tsukemono, or cabbage tsukemono.  They’re also served as a side with various dishesI decided on a version called Yasai No Tsukemono, the vegetable variety.

I don’t have a taru, the wooden tub historically used to make these pickled vegetables so I used a glass canning jar.  Very easy to make, you wash and slice your vegetables of choice.  Mine were cabbage, celery, carrots, snap peas and cucumbers.  Next, put them in your crock or jar in layers, sprinkling each generously with salt.  Cover the jar with a plate and let it ferment on your counter for 3 to 4 days.

When the plate came off, I was reminded of mild sauerkraut and smiled thinking Oktoberfest is near.  My vegetable tsukemono will be perfect with bratwurst and mustard!  Until then, I’ve enjoyed it with brown and sticky rice with a drizzle of shoyu (soy sauce) and/or rice wine vinegar.  Clean, simple and healthy (especially if you use low-sodium soy sauce).  The next version I’ll make is cucumber.

Vegetable Tsukemono with Salad Burnet

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