The most common turnip (Tokyo turnip) in Japan is only about 2 inches in diameter, but the Kyoto turnip (shougoin kabu) is extraordinarily large and is used for the famous senmaizuke pickles, which translates literally as thousand sheet pickles and that is exactly what they look like. Pickling them is a traditional preparation for winter around Kyoto. The thin slices are layered in barrels with salt and weighted for several days. This recipe is a quick version—it takes only a few hours.
This recipe may look familiar, because I’ve made it before. This time, however, I used turnips instead of radishes. This would have been very pretty with tiny baby turnips, but unfortunately I’d purchased some rather large turnips. The plan was to make “Senmaizuke” in which the turnips are sliced into paper thin circles and layered with kombu. The picture in my book shows them cut into pretty white and dark green layered squares.
If you are trying to add more vegetables or salads to your diet, I highly recommend this book: Easy Japanese Pickling in five minutes to one day. This dressing is written to be used with small Japanese eggplants, but Ms. Ogawa suggests that cucumbers make a nice variation. It’s an easy and original way to serve either vegetable.
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…
Garlic in Kombu Soy Sauce Tsukemono
from Easy Japanese Pickling
Use in chow mein, in fried rice, or as a sauce for tofu salad.
This quick to make Japanese tsukemono is sweet and salty. Use a light sweet miso for sweeter flavor, a dark strong miso for a saltier vegetable. As with all of this Japanese cooking, I’m not quite sure what I’m aiming for. I made this twice in the past few days: the first time the pictures were terrible. The second time, I sliced the carrots too thin and they got over-cooked and soft, but here are the pretty pictures. The original recipe called for 2 carrots for 4 people, but there was too much dressing (in my mind) for the amount of veg.
Acharazuke: Turnip Persimmon Pickles
serves 3 to 4
from Japanese Pickling, page 48
The following is an adaptation of the recipe in the book in order to use ingredients on hand. My version has more persimmons or less turnips than the original, and I used more chile peppers. If you can’t find dried persimmons, dried apricots would be a possible substitute.
Tsukemono (pickled vegetables) are a part of many Japanese meals. Umeboshi (pickled plum) and gari (pickled ginger) are well known examples, but the varieties of tsukemono are endless. Popular vegetables for pickling include bamboo, carrots, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, daikon radish, eggplant, ginger, gobo (burdock root) , squash, and turnips.