Thursday, November 08, 2007


Oh, dear. Not a very exciting day either yesterday nor today.

Lemi is looking good so far. Far more lovey-dovey than usual. (She has the reputation of being the queen who can hardly deign to give her subjects the time of day.)

So since nothing earth-shattering is happening I guess I'll tell you about pickles. Yippee...

Remember a couple of weeks ago when someone gave me a bunch of chayote? Well, I cooked them up in different ways (thanks blogger friends! So many of you sent me to recipes and other blogs that were posting about chayote!) and with the last couple decided to make pickles. My first batch was hardly edible but I got some proper instructions and have been turning out pickles right and left! Not only chayote but cucumber, daikon and turnip pickles too! Yum!

Japanese love pickles. There is an infinite assortment of flavors and each prefecture, city, town, village seems to have a special type of pickle. I once knew an American man who thought he'd make a fortune producing and selling dill pickles in Japan, but that enterprise fell through miserably. Either Japanese don't like the taste of dill or they have so many pickles the certainly didn't need a foreign one to satisfy their palates. Anyway, no dill pickles but loads of others.

For my successful pickle making I tried Nukazuke. Hmm. How to explain this... Nuka is the bran from rice which has no flavor but a grainy aroma. Into this dry bran you mix dried seaweed, peppers and salt. (Actually I cheated and just bought pre-mixed nukazuke for pickles.) To this mixture, you add water and mix well. The mixture gets the texture of slightly damp graham crackers and this is put into a large pot (the picture is of my neighbor's proper nukazuke pot) or Tupperware and whatever vegetable you want to pickle is pushed into it and covered. A day later you pull out the vegetable, wash it off, slice it and you have pickles! Delicious! There is something in there that is supposed to "breathe" (maybe like yeast?) and everyday you are supposed to mix the mixture (by hand) and then add more vegetables. Gradually as the mixture loses flavor you can add more salt, seaweed etc. and a good housewife can keep her nukazuke alive for years and in some cases it will have been passed down for generations. Mine has been in my care a week now and I haven't "killed" it yet! (Years ago I tried nukazuke and I ended up only producing fruit flies. Dead as a doornail!)

Tetsu is so thrilled with me! After 30 years I have finally become a true Japanese wife. I can make nukazuke! We are eating pickles till they are coming out our ears! These pickles may never see a hamburger but they make a nice side dish for a Japanese dinner with miso soup and rice.


anne bebbington said...

I'm smiling here with the mental picture of Tetsu's delight at your transformation into a true Japanese wife - in the UK we have the joke situation where a husband might say his wife can't cook nearly as well as his mother which is supposed to cause resentment between DIL and MIL - you have obviously graduated with honours :o)))))

Laurie Ann said...

Fascinating!! What is the taste like? Salty, sweet, hot? Glad your experiment turned out better than my pickled eggs!! I wonder if I could get some of that at our oriental market and try it at home. Hmmm....

meggie said...

I laughed about the MIL & DIL comparison.
I know an old joke,
Husband eating apple pie,
"What did you do to the Apple Pie? It is horrible!"
Wife, "Oh, I thought you would be pleased. I got your mother's favourite recipe for Apple Pie!"
Husband, "I always hated my mother's Apple Pie! Your Apple Pie is much nicer!"
I am so glad Tetsu loves your pickles.

jenny said...

I love your neighbor's nukazuke pot. What you do pickle in? Should I use tupperware plastic? Will the odors cling to the plastic? And do you close the tupperware lid tightly? Do you store in the refrigerator? I'm in southern California, and I don't have an even temperature ...

I'm so glad you are successful, so
any hints will help :-) Thanks so much !!!