Tsukemono (漬物) meaning ‘pickled things’ are Japanese preserved vegetables, usually pickled in salt, brine, soy sauce, miso, sake lees or a bed of rice bran/nuka . Tsukemono is served as an accompaniment to or garnish for meals, a must with ochazuke. Tsukemono are also known as konomono, oshinko or okoko, all translated as ‘fragrant dish’. There are varieties of pickles in Japan, using varieties of pickling ingredients. Some are distinct to regions. There are cities such as Kyoto, which are known for their quality pickles, and people actually travel long-distance by train to purchase for their every day use and as favored gifts.
Tsukemono’s saltiness and crispiness may make one want to eat another bowl of rice! So, it’s an essential component of a Japanese meal. Many Japanese experience sudden cravings for tsukemono. Many people make tsukemono at home. Tsukemono is a homey dish that brings nostalgia. It originated by using salt to pickle, however it developed into various other pickling methods. One method is by sun drying the vegetables first, so it helps the vegetables to absorb salt or soy sauce instead. When vegetables are pickled in rice bran or sake lees, they will ferment. So the finished tsukemono has pleasant umami along with saltiness. Tsukemono can be made with any type of vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, or Chinese cabbage. In Japan, ‘takuan’ is the most popular pickle and is made with daikon radish. Takuan is made by drying daikon and pickling with rice brand and salt. Tsukemono is mandatory to serve with Japanese meals at home.
This time, I am introducing the simplest of the tsukemono, shiozuke (塩漬け)/salt pickles also referred to as sokuseki-zuke (instant pickles). This pickle goes well with all Japanese meals, and is a pleasant palate changer between bites.
 There are families who inherit -and maintain ‘for generations’- a large pottery urn of nuka for tsukemono.
Sokuseki-zuke • 即席漬け
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• cucumbers (Japanese or Persian preferred), carrots, daikon radish (or any radish), cabbage, nappa/Chinese cabbage, leaf vegetables, some pickle the white part of watermelon’s skin, …
• salt – no more than ¼ ~ ½ tsp per vegetable (i.e. size of one large carrot)
◊ Prepare the vegetable(s) of choice:
– Partially peel the cucumbers, alternating 1 cm wide strips of peeled/unpeeled skin.
If the skin is thick and tough, peel the whole cucumber. Keep the cucumber(s) whole.
– Peel the carrot(s). If thick, cut in half or quarter lengthwise.
– Peel the radish. Cut in half or quarter lengthwise.
– Quarter cabbage with the core attached.
◊ Sprinkle salt on the vegetable(s). Then place them in a plastic zip-lock or any deep dish that can be covered/sealed tightly (vegetables release their liquid and some have strong smell). Place in refrigerator and let rest to pickle for a minimum of 2 hours, and no longer than
◊ Drain the vegetables and wrap/squeeze them with paper-towel to absorb all liquid.
Bias-slice or cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces and arrange on a plate.
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?