Shiozuke: Salted Cucumber With Kelp

Shiozuke: Salted Cucumber With Kelp

Using salt to preserve food spans millennia. The earliest known records span back to 6000BC in an area around the Nile valley and Mesopotamia known as the fertile cresecent. Japan, however, has turned this process into the artform tsukemono

Tsukemono or pickled thing in Japan accompanies literally every meal, can be served over a bowl of rice and even forms part of the tea ceremony

The simplest of tsukemonos is salt pickle (shiozuke) and includes fermented and non-fermented varieties. The lactofermented plums in the previous post are in this category

Vegetables with a high water content such as cucumber are best just lightly and briefly salted just to extract water and concentrate their flavour without fermentation

Basic methods

  1. salt can be added directly to the vegetable
  2. the vegetables are steeped in a 5 – 10% slat-to-water brine with the help of weights. You can buy special fermentation weights or just use suitable crockery to keep the vegetables fully submerged in the pickling brine
    • 5% brine requires 8 hours pickling and will last for 2-3 days
    • 10% brine requires 5 hours of pickling and will keep closer to a week

Condiments

You can pickle vegetables with or witout extra condiments. This recipe uses kombu (sea kelp) and dried chilli with whole coriander seeds. The flavour combination is potentially endless: for cucumbers try dill with sumak, or preserved lemon with black pepper. Experiment to your heart’s content

Salted Cucumber With Kombu And Chilli

Prep Time5 mins
Course: any
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: pickles, raw-food, salt pickle, tsukemono, vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber thickly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp non-iodized salt
  • a few thin strips of kombu (dried sea kelp)
  • a few thin strips of dried chilli
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds

Instructions

  • put the sliced cucumber in a bowl with the salt and toss with your fingers to disperse the salt evenly. Add the coriander, kombu and chilli.
  • Rest, covered at least an hour and preferably 5 hours in the regrigerator. Set a timer so you don;t end up with overly salty vegetables
  • Before serving squeeze firmly with your hands to extraxt and discard the salty water
  • serve in a clean bowl with the kelp and chilli. Try garnishing with a few black sesame seeds
Misozuke: Miso Pickled Vegetables

Misozuke: Miso Pickled Vegetables

Tsukemono – The Japanese Art Of Pickling

An intrinsic part of the Japanese way of eating, tsukemono pickles accompany most major meals. Salted, fermented, vinagered or exposed to a variety of micro-organisms from miso to fermented rice-bran, these vegetable side dishes are often pro-biotic, aiding digestion, and always full of that deliciousness we know as umami

Steeped in history and tradition, and with a wide range of styles and techniques the subject of tsukemono could fill several books. But, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we’ll approach tsukemono hands-on, starting with one of the simplest: miso pickling

What Is Miso?

That’s a long story too. We’ll cover some major points about miso later, including how to make it at home. For now, suffice it to that say miso is an aged micro-organism rich soy paste. Though complex in taste with varying degrees of sweetness the primary tastes are salty and umami – perfect for pickling vegetable

Which miso?

The variety of misos is great and can be daunting to the uninitiated. We’ll explore some of the major varieties in later posts. For now just remember this is a hands-on approach: use which-ever miso is available in your local shops and just get stuck-in

What about the vegetables?

Any vegetable with a good crunch can be pickled this way. Good examples include carrots, capsicums, radishes, daikon, cucumber … the list is endless. The vegetables can be immersed dirctly into the miso paste in a jar or pot, then cleaned off. A tidier method is to set up two thin layers of miso separated by a thin gauze or muslin: literally a miso bed!

What is the optimum pickling time?

Pickling times vary substantially with the type and size of the vegetable pieces, ambient temperature and of course, personal taste. Softer vegetables like radishes or cucumbers will be ready in an hour. Harder root vegetable may take 2-3 hours.

Vegetables with a high water content are best salted first to extract excess water, then rinsed to remove the all the salt before miso-pickling.

The best way is to check frequently until the taste and texture please your palate, then make a note for the next time.

How long will my miso last?

Live miso is best after 5 years. When using miso for pickling the moisture drawn from the vegetables eventually renders it unfit for the task. You should be able to use a batch for up to a month. Some suggest cooking it to remove excess moisture and any tendency to mould-growth. Though still flavourful, cooking literally kills the miso and I personally don’t recommend it. When your miso’s pickling career comes to a natural end use it in soups, stews, spreads, and marinades. Mix with a little honey or maple syrup, a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and a splash of citrus or vinager to paint onto tofu, aubergines and other vegetables for roasting or grilling

Miso is a living organism producing a range of macro and micro-nutrients, including B vitamins and notably B12. Even pasteurised shop-bought varieties contains essential enzymes which will denature with boiling and long-cooking. As a general rule opt for adding miso to dishes at the end of cooking

Miso-Zuke: Miso Pickled Vegetables

Prep Time5 mins
Pickling times vary from 1 to several hours1 min
Total Time6 mins
Course: any
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese
Keyword: miso, pickle, probiotic, side-dishes

Equipment

  • jar or pot with lid
  • or zip-lock bag
  • or flat wide ceramic dish with 3 layers of muslin or other fine cloth

Ingredients

Any Assortment Of Vegetables, such as

  • carrots
  • white turnip
  • capsicums
  • cucumber
  • radishes etc

Miso

  • white or red miso preferrably unpasteurized

Instructions

Miso Pickling Bed

  • This is not necessary if you're immersing the vegetable directly into miso paste in a jar, pot or zip-lock bag
  • Cut 3 pieces of muslin to the size of the pickling tray
  • Using a small palatte knife spread an even layer of miso on two of the pieces of musline
  • Lay the bottom layer in the pickling tray, miso side down
  • Lay the second layer mido side up and cover with the third layer of musline

Prepare The Vegetables

  • Wash, peel (if necessary) and cut the vegetables into strips or thick slices
  • Vegetables with a high water content, such as cucumber, will benefit from salting first:
  • Sprinkle a scant teaspoon of salt and mix with your fingers to cover the vegetable evenly with salt
  • Rest for 15-30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper kitchen towel
  • Place the vegetables between the bottom and middle layers of muslin
  • Allow to pickle 1-3 hours or longer according to taste
  • Enjoy with a bowl of rice, some tofu and a pot of hot tea