Karl’s Tsukemono

Tsukemono means “pickled things.” The Japanese make many different pickles in many different ways, from a quick pickled cucumber that in ready to eat in one hour to Takwan— whole pickled daikon radishes that take months to ferment. Most Japanese meals include some form of pickle.

 

Karl’s Hakusai (Napa Cabbage Pickle)

Karl’s Hakusai
(Napa Cabbage Pickle)

Jan bought me a mandoline, which makes the cutting of even slices a breeze—she also got me a knife proof glove, because she knows me so well. Cook’s Illustrated just had an article on the best mandoline.

I am making tsukemono for my Memorial Day feast and I have gone a bit pickle crazy. I tried pickling burdock (gobo), carrots & daikon (namasu), Japanese cucumber (sunomono), and napa cabbage (hakusai).

Karl’s Pickled Burdock (Gobo)

Karl’s Pickled Burdock
(Gobo)

Karl’s Pickled Burdock (Gobo)

I have read about burdock and I have seen it in the market, but this is the first time I have actually bought it. The Japanese use burdock stews and pickled in some sushi.  I found it difficult to cut, even with the mandolin and very woody. One recipe I read recommended blanching it for two minutes before pickling it, but warmed about overcooking it. I am not sure this is possible. I boiled it for five minutes and it was just as tough as when I started.

Ingredients

2-3 burdock roots

½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup mirin, sweetened rice wine
½ cup sugar

Directions

1. Wash and peel the roots.

Tip: The roots will have dirt embedded in pores along its length. Natural foodies recommend keeping the skin for the flavor, but peeling is the only way to really get rid of all of the dirt.

2. If you have a mandoline, cut the root into small matchsticks.

Tip: If you do not have a mandoline, cut the roots into 2 inch pieces and quarter them. This is a very tough root, be careful about the root rolling away while you are cutting.

3. Submerge the matchsticks in the pickling sauce with a plate and weight to keep them submerged.

4. Set in a cool place for 3-7 days.

5. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Karl’s Namasu (Carrots & Daikon Pickle)

Karl’s Namasu
(Carrots & Daikon Pickle)

Karl’s Namasu (Carrots & Daikon Pickle)

This is a classic Japanese salad. After the first day, the daikon will smell bad when you open the pickling container, but the smell dissipates. They are still tasty and safe to eat.

Ingredients

½ lb. daikon
½ lb. heirloom carrot

½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup hot water
½ tsp. turmeric

Pinch black sesame seeds

Directions

1. Rinse and peel the vegetables.

2. Shred the vegetables into 2-3 inch matchsticks.

3. Submerge the matchsticks in the pickling sauce with a plate and weight to keep them submerged.

4. Set in a cool place for 1-7 days.

5. Put in a small serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.

 

Karl’s Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Pickles)

Karl’s Sunomono
(Japanese Cucumber Pickles)

Karl’s Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Pickles)

The mandoline makes cutting the cucumbers supper easy. Cutting them by hand is a laborious process, because it is important that the slices be close to the same thickness. I cut seven long cucumbers in less than ten minutes.

My family loves these pickles and can’t get enough of them. I am constantly trying different ingredients looking for the perfect combination. Today I decided to add just a touch of pickled ginger (Gari).

Ingredients

2 lb. cucumbers

1 cup rice vinegar
½ cup mirin, sweetened rice wine
½ cup sugar
1 Tbs. pickled ginger (Gari), sliced into thin strips
1 tsp. Kosher salt

Directions

1. Slice the cucumbers thinly on the diagonal.

2. Submerge the slices in the pickling sauce with a plate and weight to keep them submerged.

3. Set in a cool place for 1-7 days.

4. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Note: I have never had these pickles last to seven days, no matter how much I make.

Karl’s Hakusai (Napa Cabbage Pickle)

Karl’s Hakusai
(Napa Cabbage Pickle)

Karl’s Hakusai (Napa Cabbage Pickle)

The Japanese usually pickle napa cabbage as Hakusai no Shiozuke (salt pickled cabbage). This however takes day to make and I wanted my pickles now! I tried doing a sweet vinegar pickle and discovered the reason for the traditional technique. This was my only pickle that was not up to snuff. It was OK, but it simply was not exciting after 24 hours.

Ingredients

1 small head napa cabbage, cut into one inch slices

4 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 dried chili
½ cup water

Directions

1. Remove the leaves from the head of the cabbage. Rinse and trim the end off.

2. Stack several leaves and cut them in half, along the long axis.

3. Slice the leaves, cross ways, into one inch pieces.

4. Put the cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle on the salt.

5. Mix well and let the cabbage sweat on the counter for one hour to soften the leaves.

6. Pour the released liquid into a small pot and add the pickling ingredients.

7. Simmer the pickling sauce for one minute and pour it, hot, over the cabbage.

8. Submerge the slices in the pickling sauce with a plate and weight to keep them submerged.

9. Set in a cool place for 1-4 days.

10. Put in a small serving bowl and garnish with the dried chili.

6 Comments

Filed under Pickles, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian

6 responses to “Karl’s Tsukemono

  1. Pingback: Karl’s Apple Wood Smoked Teriyaki Tri-tip | Jabberwocky Stew

  2. Pingback: Karl’s Salmon and Tofu Teriyaki with Six Pickles | Jabberwocky Stew

  3. Thank you for easy to do recipes. I love pickled vegies and I prefer to make my own. I am new to this and I am so excited about the journey I am about to take.

    • karllueck

      Thank you for the comment Maureen. I write my recipe directions with the idea that my readers may not have broad experience in cooking. When my mother passed down her recipes, they were sometimes so cryptic as to be unintelligible. I originally intended this site to be a database for my daughters, so that they could not only remember my dishes, but be able to replicate them. That so many others have found them useful has only been a bonus.

  4. Pingback: Karl’s Carrot and Daikon pickle II Namasu 紅白なます | Jabberwocky Stew

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