Narazuke are deep brown pickles native to the Nara Region of Japan, from which they get their name. Vegetables, typically daikon, uri or cucumber, are soaked in sake lees kasuzuke in a process where they may cure for several years. As a result the pickles have a strong, pungent flavor which is often punctuated with an overtly alcoholic bite.
Senmaizuke is another Kyoto specialty pickle. It is made of thin slices of turnip arranged brined in sweet vinegar seasoned with konbu and togarashi pepper. The resulting thin disks senmaizuke means thousand layer pickle are sweet and sour with a slightly crunchy texture.
Rakkyo are sweet pickled scallions that are served alongside Japanese curry. Rakkyo lend a sweet, crunchy bite that, like fukujinzuke, helps to augment the spicy and salty flavors of curry.
Takuan is made of Japanese radishes daikon, which have been sun dried and pickled in a mixture of salt, rice bran and sugar. The finished product is a sweet, crunchy pickle that is sliced and served alongside rice or other dishes. Takuan ranges from brownish white to fluorescent yellow in color. In Akita Prefecture they are additionally smoked and enjoyed as iburigakko.
Most tourists are probably already familiar with gari, the thin slices of sweet pickled ginger that is served alongside sushi. Gari has a sweet and sour flavor with a slightly spicy bite. It is meant to be eaten between sushi pieces as a palate cleanser, so that the unique flavor of each piece can be fully appreciated. Gari is naturally light yellow, but may also be dyed pink.
Shibazuke is a Kyoto specialty pickle made of cucumber, eggplant, perilla leaves shiso, ginger and myoga a mild flavored relative of ginger pickled in plum vinegar umezu, a byproduct of making pickled plums umeboshi. The salty, slightly sour, purple pickles are commonly served in Kyoto cuisine.
Umeboshi are Japanese plums, related to apricots, which have been salted and dried. The wrinkly red pickles are extremely salty and sour, although sweeter versions exist. Umeboshi serve as a preservative and digestive. They are eaten with all types of traditional meals, and often accompany the rice in boxed lunches (bento). Umeboshi are also one of the most popular fillings for rice balls onigiri.
Japanese pickles, Tsukemono are an important part of the Japanese diet. They are served with practically every traditional meal alongside rice and miso soup. They are valued for their unique flavors and commonly used as a garnish, relish, condiment, palate cleanser or digestive.
Tsukemono first appeared way back in Japanese history in the days before refrigeration when pickling was used to preserve food. As a result, some traditionally prepared types of pickles can be kept practically indefinitely. The different methods used to make tsukemono vary from a simple salting or vinegar brining, to more complicated processes involving cultured molds and fermentation. Continue reading