Napa cabbage and carrot is one of the classic Japanese tsukemono. Even when I have made a dish before there is always room for a tweak or two. I was planning to make hakusai no shiozuke—preserved napa cabbage, in this case with carrots—so I let these vegetables pickle for four days. this time, I made it with crushed Japanese chili and my orange infused sugar.
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 pickling sauce, you may also add a variety of ingredients to add interest/color/flavor to the basic recipe.
Karl’s Japanese Pickled Cabbage and Carrots II (Hakusai no Shiozuke)
2 cups napa cabbage, sliced into ½ inch ribbons
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1. Rinse and chop the cabbage into one half inch by one inch strips.
Tip: it is easiest, if you have a large head, to remove several leaves at a time and stack them for easy chopping.
2. Use a vegetable shredder to cut the carrots into about 2-3 inch match sticks.
Tip: A mandoline with a shredder plate also works well.
3. Put the vegetables in a bowl, sprinkle them with the salt, and toss to distribute the salt over the vegetables.
Tip: The salt will draw the liquid out of the vegetables and turns it into a strong brine.
4. Let the vegetables sweat for 20-30 minutes and then squeeze out the liquid.
Tip: Do not rinse off the vegetables. You have used only a small bit of salt and you want to keep what is left after you have squeezed away most of it.
5. Put the vegetables in sealable plastic bag and add the rest of the ingredients—ginger, chile, vinegar, mirin, 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 one hour.
Tip: For ichiyazuke, let the brined vegetables sit under pressure for at least a day. I wanted a Hakusai no Shiozuke (preserved napa cabbage), so I let these vegetables pickle for four days. Flip the bag occasionally to ensure all of the greens 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.