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Japanese Recipes: Tsukemono
"Pickled Things"

In Japan, salt pickling is more common than vinegar pickling. The salt draws the moisture out of items being pickled, which creates the brine that preserves them. One of the other cooks I worked with was really confused by this. She asked me whether she should add vinegar because she didn't understand how one could take dry vegetables and dry salt and end up with brine. Trust me, it works.

Almost any vegetable can be salt-pickled; simply add 4% salt by weight and let the mixture sit for at 3-5 days before eating. The salt pickles will also keep well in the refrigerator after that time if removed from the brine and kept in an airtight container or bag. Root vegetables that are red and white are considered festive, so salt pickled daikon and carrots are a common New Year's food. Personally, I prefer the taste of pickled turnip over pickled daikon.

Tsukemono (Salt Pickles) of root vegetables

For about 20 servings:

3 lbs turnip
1 lb gobo (burdock) root
1 lb carrots
1/8 lb salt

Peel turnips, gobo, and carrots and cut into matchsticks.
Find a container (stock pot, large bowl, etc) and a plate that will work together such that the plate fits just inside the diameter of the container.
Mix the vegetables and salt in the container.
Push down and cover the surface of the vegetables with plastic wrap.
Place the plate on top and weight it with something heavy (and non-toxic, since it may get immersed in brine).
Refrigerate. After an hour there should be enough brine to seep over the edges of the plate.
Allow to pickle for at least 3 days.


Simmering food in soy sauce may not seem like a good way to pickle something, but the high amount of salt the food absorbs from the soy sauce actually does pickle it. Mushrooms seem to be the best food for soy-simmering. They keep very well in the refrigerator afterwards as long as they are in an airtight container or plastic bag.

Shiitake Kara-ni (Mushroom Relish)

Serves 6,  Tsuji 397

1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1/2 lb fresh shiitake (Or substitute 2 oz. dried shiitake)

If using dried shiitake, soak mushrooms in warm water for at least 30 mins to re-hydrate.
Combine all ingredients in pot, simmer w/ drop lid until liquid is almost gone. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.

All content copyright the author, Jennifer Munson munson.jennifer@gmail.com The author makes no guarantees for instructions and recipes on this site; neither does she accept responsibility for their outcomes. Verbatim copies may be made for educational purposes only provided they contain original copyright marking.

This page created October 4, 2002

Last updated August 02, 2005