I made sukiyaki this Sunday for the family dinner. The final simmer takes place on the table and I decided that I should have some pickles on the table for my diners to snack on while they waited for the dish to finish cooking. I made some salt cabbage (kyabetsu shio-zuke; キャベツ塩-漬け ) and some cucumber pickles.
Karl’s Japanese Orange Cucumber Pickles
4 Japanese cucumbers
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
2 Tbs. hijiki seaweed
1 sealable quart plastic bag
1. Rinse and dry cucumbers well. Remove half inch of the stem end from each.
Tip: The stem end of the cucumber contains a bitter compound that will spread to the rest of the pickles if you put it in with the rest as you are pickling.
2. Roll cut the cucumbers into 1 inch pieces.
3. Sprinkle the salt over the cucumbers and toss to coat the pieces.
4. Let the cucumbers rest for 1 hour.
Tip: The salt will draw off a fair amount of the moisture in the cucumbers.
5. Put the hijiki in a small bowl and add about half a cup of warm water.
Tip: This will rehydrate the seaweed.
6. Toss the cucumbers several times to recoat the pieces with the brine.
7. Drain and rinse the cucumbers well.
8. Put the sugar and vinegar in the quart bag.
Note: The orange infused sugar is white sugar mixed with orange zest. I keep a jar on my counter next to the salt and pepper.
9. Seal the bag and shake it to dissolve the sugar.
10. Add the cucumbers and hijiki to the pickling sauce.
11. Press out most of the air and seal the bag.
12. Refrigerate the cucumbers for at least two hours.
Tip: About every half hour, flip the bag, so that the sauce is spread evenly around the cucumbers.
13. The pickles will be edible within two hours, but they are better by hour four and best the next day.