As I was gathering ingredients for my Sunday Japanese feast, I spotted kabu (カブ)—Japanese turnips. I thought, “Umm, turnip pickles, those would be good.” While I have made these pickles before, I have apparently never posted them. Today, I chose to salt pickle (shiozuke; 塩漬け) my turnips.
Before the introduction of refrigeration, Japanese pickles (漬物, tsukemono) was an important method of preserving vegetables. Japanese cuisine uses several methods of pickling—salt, rice bran, sake lees, soy sauce, vinegar, and miso. Each technique imparts its own taste and texture to the final pickle. Besides the basic pickling, you may also add a variety of ingredients to add interest/color/flavor to the basic recipe. For this pickle, I am adding kombu (昆布, kelp) and Shichimi tōgarashi (七味唐辛子, seven-flavor chili pepper).
Karl’s Japanese Turnip Pickles
4 Japanese turnips (about ½ lb.)
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. kombu, shredded
¼ tsp. Shichimi tōgarashi (a Japanese chili pepper blend)
1. Wash and cut the turnips in half—top to bottom.
Tip: A mandoline is very useful for making even, thin slices.
Note: I leave a “handle” of the turnip greens on and slice the turnip—not quite all the way through—from the bottom. This give me something to hang onto as I slide the root past the very sharp mandoline blade.
2. Put the turnip slices in a sealable quart bag and sprinkle the salt over them.
3. Add the kombu, water, and Shichimi to the turnips.
4. Shake the bag to distribute all of the ingredients.
5. Press the air out of the bag and pickle for at least 4 hours.
Tip: Overnight is better. Flip the bag occasionally to ensure all of the turnip slices are in contact with the pickling sauce.
Note: While this is too little pickle to use most pickle presses on, I put several bags of different pickles into my press and press them together.
6. Squeeze the excess liquid and salt off and transfer the pickles to a bowl.
7. (Optional) Garnish with a sprinkle of Shichimi.