I’m making Japanese curry for dinner and, in reading Just One Cookbook’s recipe, I learned that fukujinzuke is commonly served on the side. Fukujinzuke is the Japanese version of a chutney to compliment the curry—a cooling, crunchy contrast to the soft and spicy main dish. While this dish may have four main ingredients—daikon, eggplant, lotus root and cucumber—it may also have up to seven in homage to the Seven Lucky Gods. I cannot eat eggplant, wife Jan does not like lotus root, and daughter Eilene does not like shiitake mushrooms—another common ingredient—I adapted the recipe and used what I had on hand.
Note: If you do not want to make your own fukujinzuke and you have access to a Japanese market it is available commercially.
3 in. piece daikon
5 inch piece Japanese or English cucumber
1 medium carrots
½ Tbs. Kosher salt
1. Cut all of the vegetables into thin slices.
Tip: A mandoline is a very useful tool to make even slices.
Note: If the daikon radish is particularly thick, cut it in half or quarters lengthwise.
2. Place the vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over them.
3. Toss the vegetables to coat each piece with the salt.
Tip: The slices of vegetables will tend to stick together. Try to separate them to get the salt all over each piece.
4. Let the vegetables soak for half an hour.
Tip: Over time the liquid will be drawn from the vegetables and make a very salty marinade. Toss the vegetables several times to redistribute the solution.
5. While the vegetables are soaking, place all of the sauce ingredients in a small pot and bring it to a boil.
Tip: Wipe the kombu with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt, but do not wipe off the white crystals—they are part of the kombu’s umami flavor called mannit.
6. Squeeze the liquid from the vegetables and add them to the sauce.
Tip: I personally find that simply draining and squeezing the vegetables leaves them too salty for my taste. I rinse the vegetables to remove the excess salt and then wring out the liquid.
7. Bring the sauce back to a boil and simmer for one minute.
8. Remove the vegetables and transfer them to a sealable plastic bag
9. Remove the kombu from the sauce and slice it into thin strips—⅛ inch by 1 inch.
10. Mix the kombu strips into the vegetables.
11. Continue simmering the sauce until it is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
12. Pour the hot sauce over the vegetables and shake them around to coat each piece with the sauce.
Tip: The slices of vegetables will again tend to stick together, try to separate them.
13. Press the sir out of the bag and seal it.
14. Refrigerate and marinate the vegetables for at least one hour.
Tip: Two to three hours is better.
15. Drain and serve on the side with Japanese Curry.