Tsukemono: Japan's Pickled Soul Food *RERUN
Tsukemono is a simple food made by pickling vegetables and other ingredients in seasonings such as salt and vinegar. It started as a preserved food, and some are made by fermentation. It is never the main dish, but is an essential part of the Japanese diet. Every region has its own special tsukemono. Tsukemono can be enjoyed not only for its taste, but also for its flavor, color and the sound it makes when chewed. We take a journey of tsukemono around Japan.


One of the most common tsukemono is Nukazuke, and once, every home used to make its own. Nukadoko is Nuka (rice bran) fermented with salt and water. Put any kind of food in it and it becomes a Nukazuke. With cucumbers, it only takes about 3 hours to pickle. The most important thing with a Nukadoko is that you mix it and expose it to air every day. Otherwise the fermentation will stop and mold will start to grow. Every Nukadoko tastes different with each home. It's an important role of the wife, the master of the kitchen, to mix the Nukadoko every day and keep the family flavor.

Pickled Suguki

There is a rare vegetable that is grown only in the vicinity of the Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto Prefecture. It is a Suguki, a type of turnip. Suguki is a vegetable that contains a lot of lactic acid bacteria. To make tsukemono, pieces of Suguki are packed in a large barrel and salt is sprinkled. Cells are destroyed by the salt, and the fermentation begins. Pickled Suguki was once a highly valued luxury food, used as gifts to the Imperial Palace and aristocrats. Tasty and good for the body, this pickle has been a long-selling health food for more than 500 years.

Tasting the Colors

There is a vegetable that only grows well in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. It is the "Iyo-hikabu" a purple colored turnip. It is purple on the outside, but white inside. When it is finely sliced, sprinkled with salt, and covered in citrus juice ... the purple pigment reacts with the acid and changes to a bright pink color. It is a bright-colored tsukemono, made only with natural ingredients.