Pickles are indispensable in Japanese cuisine with their colorful appearance and different flavors and are formed with a unique style from the centuries-old knowledge. They are a part of an inseparable trio with miso soup and rice.
Japanese pickles are prepared by salting, vinegar, and fermenting with alcohol, soy sauce or miso. Let’s get to know the most popular ones, not only for taste, but also for the purpose of use and the unique use of each dish.
Pickled ginger or sushi ginger is known as gari or shin-shoga no amazu-zuki in Japanese. Served with sushi or sashimi, it sweetens the dish. In addition, the spiciness of ginger and the sweet vinegar flavor clean the palate between meals while eating different types of sushi and allow you to enjoy the moment.
So How to Make Gari?
The pickling procedure starts with thin slices of ginger which are shortly boiled in water, drained, then dried. The slices are later stored in jars or containers and doused in a boiled pickling mixture made with rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. Gari can be consumed after a couple of days, and if properly stored, it has a relatively long shelf life.
Takuan is pickled Japanese daikon radish, and as such, it belongs to the group of tsukemono pickles. It’s usually served with other tsukemono pickles or used in salads, stir-fries, and as an ingredient in sushi. Takuan is also sometimes served at the end of a large meal because it aids in digestion, or as a snack at teatime.
So How to Make Takuan?
The Japanese daikon is very crunchy and has sweet and mild flavors. It’s typically sun-dried, seasoned with salt and various spices, then left in the pickling solution of turmeric, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and water for a few months.
Umeboshi, Japanese pickled plums, is one of Japan’s tastiest superfoods. These pickled Japanese ume plums have an amazing health benefit. Umeboshi really is a superfood.
They can help with fatigue, improve the immune system and digestion, and reduce obesity. In Japan, they say that there’s “no need to visit a medical doctor if you eat one umeboshi a day!”
So How to Make Umeboshi?
Salting and drying techniques are used to make umeboshi pickles. Although there are sweeter versions, shriveled red pickles are extremely salty and sour.
Matsumaezuke is a pickle dish unique to Matsumae, Hokkaidō. This pickle, which has gained popularity across the country, is eaten as a light snack, condiment or side dish.
So How to Make Matsumaezuke?
It is an interesting combination of local specialties of Hokkaido such as squid, konbu, kazunoko (herring) and carrots, flavored with sake, soy sauce and mirin (sweet cooking wine).
Misozuke, literally Japanese soybean paste (miso) pickle (zuke), is one of the easiest Japanese pickles, known collectively as pickles. It refers to the many delicious kinds of pickled vegetables served as a snack or a garnish in Japan. They’re delicious with a tofu rice bowl, or on a sliced chicken sandwich with wasabi mayonnaise.
So How to Make Misozuke?
The pickle chutney is called Misodoko, and the concoction is simply made from miso or a combination of miso and sake, mirin, or sugar. Misodoko is easy to make: all you need is to mix all the ingredients. Common materials are; Vegetables, Meat, Fish or seafood, Tofu, Cheese, Egg yolk.
After pickling, vegetables are eaten as is (raw), meat and fish are cooked. You can add kombu, garlic, etc. if you want. You can also include flavor enhancers such as
After putting the ingredients in the misodoko, put them in the refrigerator. If you don’t plan on eating Misozuke with meat or fish in the same week, you can freeze it, but cooking it in a short time is recommended.
I could only give you five examples of pickles. Think of it as preliminary information for pickles. You can examine these colorful and thoughtful pickles of Japanese cuisine more and make what you eat more meaningful.
Nozawana, Saikyozuke, Shibazuke, Fukujinzuke and many more. Why not do more research? Do you not want to try to make these pickles at home?
I hope you can taste and feel these pickles, which are small but have a big meaning.
Feature image by Ranking.net
Join us for a food tour in Asakusa to taste and learn more about Japanese pickles.
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