Tsukemono (Japanese Pickles)

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Japanese Pickles
Japanese Pickles

Japanese pickles are are made from vegetables or fruits

Japanese pickles (漬物, 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.

Japanese Pickles
Japanese Pickles

All kinds of vegetables and some fruits are used to make tsukemono including, but not limited to, Japanese radish (daikon), cucumber, eggplant, carrot, cabbage, water lily root, ginger, shallots and plums (ume). Sometimes seaweed and other seafood are added to pickle mixtures for flavor and variety. Some pickling methods are also used to preserve and flavor seafood and meat dishes.

Common pickle dishes

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.

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.

Japanese Pickles
Japanese Pickles

Assortments of nukazuke pickles consisting of cucumber, carrots, eggplant, daikon or turnip (kabu) are often served alongside set menu meals (teishoku) or as a part of the rice set (shokuji) in kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) meals.

Kyuri asazuke are simple pickles made of cucumbers marinated in a salt brine (shiozuke) that is sometimes seasoned with konbu, togarashi pepper and/or vinegar. Whole cucumbers served on a stick are often pickled this way and sold by street vendors at festivals, temple approaches and popular tourist spots, especially during spring and summer when they are a refreshing treat.