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…
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.
Cauliflower Tsukemono with Citron and Kombu
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.
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