Cauliflower Tsukemono with Citrus and Kombu

Japanese cauliflower citron pickles

Notes about this Japanese tsukemono:
Fresh citron fruit was not available here in Michigan in June. It seems that citron is the name for many different botanically related fruits. Some of my research indicated that a cook could use a “sour orange” from various Mediterranean counties (also not available), a many fingered citron called “Budha’s Hand” from China, or a grapefruit. I bought and tasted the rind of a grapefruit, and found it unpleasant. Apparently citrons have thick skins and a small amount of very sour juice. Maybe, sort of like grapefruits…

Japanese cauliflower citron pickles

In the U.S. “citron” is the bitter/bad/odd-tasting candied(preserved?) fruit that is no doubt the source of so many jokes about how awful Christmas fruitcakes are.
According to Joan Nathan in her book “The Jewish Holiday Kitchen” (circa 1979), citron was known as etrog. It is one of the four plants that decorate the sukkah—the trellis roofed cabin built for the autumn holiday of Sukkot (“Feast of the Ingathering”).

I looked for information about citrus fruits in Japan, and there are quite a many that are not available here in the U.S. There are many beautiful pictures of amazing citrus fruits to see online.
Keeping in mind that this recipe is a small vegetable dish, and what I’m studying is Japanese home cooking, lime seemed a good-tasting-enough substitute in this recipe! Nice.

Japanese Cauliflower Tsukemon

Cauliflower Tsukemono with Citron and Kombu
serves 4

From Easy Japanese Pickling

  • 2 Tablespoons pre-boiled sake
  • 4-inch square kombu
  • zest from 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon mirin
  • 1 small head of cauliflower

Julienne the kombu with scissors. Soak in the sake for at least 15 minutes.
Julienne the lime zest. (or use a micro-plane to grate the zest)
In a shallow bowl, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, and mirin.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Blanch for 1 minute in boiling water. Drain.
Add the (warm) cauliflower to the shallow bowl and toss together. Add the kombu and sake. Toss again.
Let stand for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If you are not ready to eat, refrigerate.

Japanese cauliflower citron pickles

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4 thoughts on “Cauliflower Tsukemono with Citrus and Kombu

  1. Pingback: Vegetarian Dashi « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

  2. The citrus referred to is most likely yuzu. It does indeed have a thick rind and a small amount of juice. But what’s special about it is not that it is especially sour; rather, the juice and rind are both very aromatic.

    You can now get bottled yuzu juice, at asian markets and even at amazon. It won’t be as wonderful as fresh yuzu, but it is definitely better than just lemon or lime.

    • Hi Bo Laurent,
      I did once manage to find “fresh” yuzu. And it was not like lemon or lime juice.
      But I think it was because it was “beyond its sell-by date” and not very good at all. I would love to find a good one!
      I also once found a Budda’s hand citron. Not much juice in that at all. Bit interesting to look at!
      The bottled yuzu juice does not seem very flavorful, sort of like using the bottled lemon juice if you know what I mean. Sort of a “stale” flavor. The bottled lemon juice gives me an image of what lemon juice could be.
      I’d say that your advice is good: bottled yuzu juice. Or my current feeling: lime juice for this recipe.

  3. Pingback: Buddha’s Hand « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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