Quick Japanese pickles

| 1 Comment

Starting today and continuing until I get tired of it: Recipe Thursdays at Media Tinker. Food's another thing I tinker with. Maybe you'll enjoy trying some of the things I like to cook.

To start off this series, I'm going to give you one of my favorite foods: pickles! I've always been a sucker for pickles (ask my mother about my childhood naughtiness of sneaking things off the relish plate before our big family dinners) and Japanese pickles are the best. We're not talking garlic dills or sweet gherkins here; Japan's pickles come in a wide range of vegetables and pickling methods. Even fish is pickled.

I took a pickling class at a few years ago and it was one of the most enjoyable and useful classes I've attended. I can make all sorts of Japanese pickles now.

The easiest one is a "quick pickle" made of cabbage, cucumber and carrot. It's a great way to use up the odds and ends of your salad things and it's very flexible in terms of time and ingredients. Go ahead an experiment a bit!

Quick Japanese Pickles

1/4 Chinese cabbage, sliced thin (round head cabbage works, too)
1 Japanese cucumber (the narrow kind), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 carrot, sliced into thin rounds
Salt - about 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon for every cup of sliced vegetables
2 inch slice of dried kombu (seaweed)
Optional seasoning herb: myoga, shiso, dried red pepper, basil, lemon peel, black pepper, basil

Mix the sliced vegetables together with the salt in a large bowl. Allow to sit for five minutes, then gently press the wilting vegetables to release the water and bitterness. The vegetables will feel wet and will reduce in volume. Drain the liquid (often slightly foamy and tan colored) from the bowl.

Now you need to put the kombu underneath and weigh down the vegetables for at least an hour. I have a nifty "pickle press" with a spring loaded lid and another with a screw-down plunger, but you can use a bowl with a plate on top and cans stacked on the plate. I've done it that way plenty of times and it works fine.

You can leave the pickles pressing for as long as a full day, so you can start your pickles in the morning before work, or even right after tonight's dinner. I ususally forget to do them until just before I want to eat them, so mine usually only get an hour of pressing. More pressing makes them more...limply crisp.

If you want to add a seasoning herb, do it about 15 minutes before you serve the pickles. Toss the sliced/chopped/cracked herb in with the pickels and put the weights back on. You're going for subtle here, a little goes a long way with these pickles, I've found.

To serve, rinse the pickles in cold water, squeezing tightly in your hands to drain and make a little mound of pickle on the plate. A drizzle of soy sauce is nice but not necessary.

1 Comment


I am trying to find a recipe for burdock pickles (gobo tsukemono) - can you please provide me with one or tell me where I could find one?


Leave a comment

Recent Comments

  • sandrine: Hello, I am trying to find a recipe for burdock read more