I am making several vegetable dishes for my Japanese feast this Sunday, pickled cabbage is an easy choice for me. Japan has many Tsukemono, literally “pickled things.” When my father came back from Japan in the fifties, he introduced my family to Japanese cuisine. One dish that he learned to make was salt pickled cabbage (kyabetsu shio-zuke; キャベツ塩-漬け ). A fond memory of my childhood was this salty crunchy pickle, that he only made occasionally for special occasions.
A while ago, I finally replicated his recipe. I always have to add something. When I was at the local farmer’s market last week, I saw some red shishito peppers. This are nothing more than fully ripe shishito pepper. They are a bright fire engine red and are usually mild—although you might get a “hot” one. I decided to add one to my pickled cabbage.
Karl’s Salt Cabbage with Red Shishito Pepper (Kyabetsu Shio-zuke Tsukemono)
¼ head of green cabbage
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
1 Red Shishito Pepper
1. Cut the cabbage into one inch squares and break the leaves apart.
2. Put them in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over the vegetables.
3. Use a spatula to mix and distribute the salt over the leaves.
4. Toss the vegetables several times over the next two hours to coat all surfaces of the cabbage with the salty brine.
Tip: This salting starts the process of drawing the liquid out of the leaves and makes them a bit softer and easier to press down.
5. Slice the shishito pepper into rings and remove the seeds and stem.
6. Mix the pepper rings into the cabbage and transfer the mixture to a pickle press and crank down on the press.
Tip: You want the cabbage to be completely submerged when it is press down.
Note: If your pickle press has a crank, turn it as down as tightly as you can and tighten it again after an hour.
7. Let the cabbage pickle for one to three days, the longer the better.
Tip: I have found that 2-3 days is the perfect length of time.
8. Drain, but do not rinse, the cabbage before serving.
9. Transfer the tsukemono to a serving bowl and serve at room temperature.
Tip: Pick out a few of the pepper rings to use as a garnish.