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Tsukemono a.k.a. Japanese Pickles


monsterriffs
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So I'm certain that those of you who enjoy Japanese cuisine are familiar with the variety of pickles that are to be found. Specifically, I really love those yellow daikon pickles that usually come with your food at Temari Cafe or wherever. So I have set out to start making them myself but there are so many different recipes for pickles and different variations that I don't even know where to start. I made a simple batch last night where I boiled a quarter cup of rice vinegar with a lot of sugar and a WHOLE lot of salt, much to my amazement/distress.

Does anyone have any idea of how to make those yellow daikon pickles? I know the authentic way is to dry them outside where they get their yellow color (I believe), but then there's talk of rice bran? Whatever the case, all recipes and/or tips would be greatly appreciated!

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Does anyone have any idea of how to make those yellow daikon pickles? I know the authentic way is to dry them outside where they get their yellow color (I believe), but then there's talk of rice bran?

Takuan is great stuff, albeit an acquired taste. According to Elizabeth Ando, the yellow color does not come from drying or nuka (rice bran) but from kuchinashi no mi (dried and pulverized gardenia seeds). I have never seen the latter sold but it appears from a Google search that it is sold as a natural dye in Japanese supermarkets.

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Takuan is great stuff, albeit an acquired taste. According to Elizabeth Ando, the yellow color does not come from drying or nuka (rice bran) but from kuchinashi no mi (dried and pulverized gardenia seeds). I have never seen the latter sold but it appears from a Google search that it is sold as a natural dye in Japanese supermarkets.

Maybe this is an inquiry for our local Japanese markets.

I took a look at my pickle jar and the daikon pieces look to be shriveling up a bit, which is what I expected, but now there's a very heavy syrup at the bottom of the jar, and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to stir it as thorughly as possible to get the syrup mixed up with the vinegar part, or if I'm supposed to leave it be.

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Takuan is great stuff, albeit an acquired taste. According to Elizabeth Ando, the yellow color does not come from drying or nuka (rice bran) but from kuchinashi no mi (dried and pulverized gardenia seeds). I have never seen the latter sold but it appears from a Google search that it is sold as a natural dye in Japanese supermarkets.

Aren't the pickled daikon radish called oshinko?

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Aren't the pickled daikon radish called oshinko?
Here in Kitakami, oshinko is usually shredded pickled cabbage. According to at least one online dictionary, oshinko can also be a general term for mixed pickles, including daikon.

ladi kai lemoni, you can use a mixture of rice bran, water, and a bit of salt to pickle vegetables. It's usually done in a plastic container where vegetables are buried in the bran mixture, covered, the lid weighted down, and the whole thing is stored in a coolish place. One friend does her pickles this way in a fully-packed Tupperware container sans weight. I think Gary's right that just doing it this way won't get you the yellow daikon, though.

I'm afraid I have no suggestions about stirring your current pickling liquid, but I'm very curious to hear how the pickles turn out.

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Here in Kitakami, oshinko is usually shredded pickled cabbage. According to at least one online dictionary, oshinko can also be a general term for mixed pickles, including daikon.

ladi kai lemoni, you can use a mixture of rice bran, water, and a bit of salt to pickle vegetables. It's usually done in a plastic container where vegetables are buried in the bran mixture, covered, the lid weighted down, and the whole thing is stored in a coolish place. One friend does her pickles this way in a fully-packed Tupperware container sans weight. I think Gary's right that just doing it this way won't get you the yellow daikon, though.

I'm afraid I have no suggestions about stirring your current pickling liquid, but I'm very curious to hear how the pickles turn out.

About how long are the pickles supposed to sit in the rice bran mixture? And as for the yellow daikon, I could have sworn that I read somewhere that this color traditionally came from the aging process. However, I am not opposed to the food coloring route.

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It depends on how pickled you want them to be. If only lightly, maybe a day, more or less; if you want a more robust pickle, a week or longer.

Most of my pickling knowledge comes from Shizuo Tsuji's "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art," which is a great resource to have if you're interested in Japanese food generally. He talks about developing the rice bran mash for pickling by using vegetables you might otherwise discard in the mash for the first week or ten days to introduce the organisms needed for fermentation to occur. Put in some old carrots one day, take them out the next, then introduce some old cucumbers, etc. So, if you were to go the rice bran route, it seems that you'd have to work on the mash for about a week before making "edible" pickles.

Rice bran pickles are mighty fine. :angry:

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About how long are the pickles supposed to sit in the rice bran mixture?

I don't remember my mother going more than one week at room temperature, but she did not develop the mash as suggested by Xochitl10 (Tsuji's book is the best single source for Japanese cooking in English that I have seen). I also recall that she had bought a simple acrylic jar with a screw mechanism connected to an internal plate and extended out of the top. Instead of using a weight, as the vegetables released water into the pickling liquid, the pressure on the plate pressing against the vegetables was increased by turning the screw. Xochitl10, do you see such things still being sold in Japan?

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I don't remember my mother going more than one week at room temperature, but she did not develop the mash as suggested by Xochitl10 (Tsuji's book is the best single source for Japanese cooking in English that I have seen). I also recall that she had bought a simple acrylic jar with a screw mechanism connected to an internal plate and extended out of the top. Instead of using a weight, as the vegetables released water into the pickling liquid, the pressure on the plate pressing against the vegetables was increased by turning the screw. Xochitl10, do you see such things still being sold in Japan?

My daikon pickles are currently in the fridge in the rice vinegar mixture and when I smelled them, they smelled vaguely like the sweet and sour pickled cabbage many Chinese restaurants serve. The recipe also called for chile peppers, which I threw in, so I'm thinking this isn't exactly authentically Japanese. Nevertheless, thanks for the book recommendation. I'll try to pick it up when I find myself near a B&N or a Borders.

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I don't remember my mother going more than one week at room temperature, but she did not develop the mash as suggested by Xochitl10 (Tsuji's book is the best single source for Japanese cooking in English that I have seen). I also recall that she had bought a simple acrylic jar with a screw mechanism connected to an internal plate and extended out of the top. Instead of using a weight, as the vegetables released water into the pickling liquid, the pressure on the plate pressing against the vegetables was increased by turning the screw. Xochitl10, do you see such things still being sold in Japan?
I haven't seen one yet, but I also haven't specifically looked for one. Mostly, I've seen the plastic lidded buckets and bags of bricklike weights.

ETA: Gary, how did your mother make her bran mash?

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The initial taste test on my daikon pickles is in and the verdict is: not too shabby. This recipe seems to be a bit more of a Chinese cabbage recipe, but the sweet and saltiness of the pickle is really nice, although if I use this recipe for pickles in the future, I'm reducing the amount of sugar and salt in the recipe.

I bought Tsuji's book today and will look to attempt a more traditional pickle at some point in the future.

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I started a bed of rice bran mash today, using slices of a past-its-prime daikon as the first set of development vegetables.

post-971-1194790673_thumb.jpg

I used two layers of daikon, surrounding each well with the bran mash. My bin is of the kind Gary described upthread, with the plate-and-screw mechanism.

post-971-1194790686_thumb.jpg

As it turns out, the bran I bought already had many flavoring ingredients in it: dried red pepper, salt, sesame seed, katsuobushi, probably konbu, maybe mustard. It's very salty. I'll leave today's daikon in for two or three days, then change it out for a new set of past-prime vegetables another time or two over the span of about a week. The bed should then be ready to make edible pickles.

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I started a bed of rice bran mash today, using slices of a past-its-prime daikon as the first set of development vegetables.

post-971-1194790673_thumb.jpg

I used two layers of daikon, surrounding each well with the bran mash. My bin is of the kind Gary described upthread, with the plate-and-screw mechanism.

post-971-1194790686_thumb.jpg

As it turns out, the bran I bought already had many flavoring ingredients in it: dried red pepper, salt, sesame seed, katsuobushi, probably konbu, maybe mustard. It's very salty. I'll leave today's daikon in for two or three days, then change it out for a new set of past-prime vegetables another time or two over the span of about a week. The bed should then be ready to make edible pickles.

Oh man, I just saw this post, thank you for updating us!

I haven't been able to find a pickling tupperware like you just showed us, so I've determined I need to use my pickling jar and find a large flat stone that i'm going to wrap in some wax paper and put it in the jar as a weight.

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I started a new pickle bed yesterday, after about five months of not having one. I had about a kilogram of plain, raw rice bran that I toasted in a pan, then mixed with about 15% of its weight in salt. Dried konbu seaweed and a couple of bad-bacteria deterring agents, dried togarashi (Japanese chile pepper) and dried mustard powder, went in too. I added some water to make a thick sludge, put the mix into the pickle bin, and put in an old cucumber to start developing the fermentation bacteria. We should start having edible pickles in about a week.

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I started a new pickle bed yesterday, after about five months of not having one. I had about a kilogram of plain, raw rice bran that I toasted in a pan, then mixed with about 15% of its weight in salt. Dried konbu seaweed and a couple of bad-bacteria deterring agents, togarashi (Japanese red chile pepper) and dried mustard powder, went in too. I added some water to make a thick sludge, put the mix into the pickle bin, and put in an old cucumber to start developing the fermentation bacteria. We should start having edible pickles in about a week.

Thanks for the update. This particular project of mine has completely fallen by the wayside, but this is good to know if I gear up to start a pickle bed.

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Both oshinko and tsukemono are general terms for pickles. As I understand it, oshinko is the term usually applied to salt-pickled Chinese cabbage, but can apply to other kinds of pickles. Tsukemono, literally "pickled things," includes all variety of pickled things: salt-pickled, rice-bran-pickled, miso-pickled, sake-lees-pickled, etc.

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