While you can make this recipe with any turnip, the Japanese turnip—kabu (カブ)—of choice for pickling is the small, white, round, Hakurei. The last time I made Japanese pickled turnips, I used the salt pickling technique. This time, I both briefly salted the turnips and then pickled them with sweet and sour vinegar sauce.
I was planning a poké chirashi sushi—scatter sushi—for Sunday’s family dinner. Fish and rice is not enough to balance a meal, so I needed some vegetables to round out the dish. In Japan that usually means a variety of Japanese pickles (漬物, tsukemono). Most pickles take time, so I started making them on the Wednesday before the dinner.
Note: For the master poké chirashi sushi recipe, I took small serving of each of the pickles I had made and “scattered” them around my fish and rice—not counting the additional store bought tidbits. It has taken time to write up what turned out to be seven separate new recipes that all ended up on one plate.
Before the introduction of refrigeration, Japanese pickles were 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.
Karl’s Japanese Pickled Turnips
3-4 Japanese turnips (about ½ lb.)
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
1 seal-able quart plastic bag
1. Wash and slice the turnips into thin slices.
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 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 bowl and sprinkle the salt over them.
3. Let the turnips sweat for an hour.
Tip: Toss occasionally to redistribute the salt solution.
4. Lightly rinse off the excess salt and squeeze out the excess water.
Tip: By this time the slices of turnip will be fairly soft and will not break as you squeeze them.
5. Place the turnip slices in a seal-able quart plastic and add the rest of the ingredients—kombu, onion, mirin, vinegar, and sugar.
6. Shake the bag to distribute all of the ingredients and dissolve the sugar.
7. Press the air out of the bag and pickle for at least 4 hours.
Tip: I wanted a good pickle so I let these turnips pickle for four days. Flip the bag occasionally to ensure all of the turnip slices are in contact with the pickling sauce.
Note: While this recipe is a bit small to use most pickle presses on, I put several bags of different pickles into my press and press them all together.
8. Squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer the pickles to a bowl.
Note: For this recipe I took, small serving of each pickle I made and “scattered” them around my fish and rice.