Japanese quick pickles

Japanese quick pickles

Asazuke

By
From
JapanEasy
Makes
2 × 500 ml
Photographer
Laura Edwards

I love pickles. I’m not a creature of routine, and my diet is rather erratic, but I actually eat some kind of pickle every single day. I eat spicy pickled bamboo shoots as a pick-me-up; pickled ginger as a garnish; and pickled fennel and cucumbers just because I can’t resist them. Many Japanese pickles take days, if not weeks or months, to ferment, but the quick vinegar-brined pickles known as asazuke are actually among my favourites. They are sharp and salty and have a very clean, pure flavour that works well alongside all kinds of meals, not just Japanese. Also, they are superb with sake or beer – their mouth-watering acidity will keep you quaffing, so they’re excellent fodder for an evening of raucous drunken board gaming.

Totes not difficult

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100ml water
10g kombu
or 1/4 teaspoon dashi powder
100g sugar – caster (superfine) sugar is fine but golden caster is better
1 teaspoon salt
400ml rice vinegar
pinch dried chilli flakes
or 1 small dried chilli, cut in half lengthways
vegetables, cucumbers, radishes, fennel, turnips, carrots - as much as will fit in the jars

Method

  1. Combine the water and kombu or dashi powder in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in the sugar and salt until they dissolve, then remove from the heat and combine with the rice vinegar. Add the chilli flakes or chilli.
  2. All you have to do now is prepare your veg – pretty much any veg you like. If you want your pickles FAST, slice them into small pieces so they absorb the brine more quickly. If you can wait for your pickles, I’d recommend keeping your veg whole or just cutting them into fairly big chunks, but that’s mainly so you can slice them as needed, which makes them look a bit prettier. Anyway, if you cut your veg small, the pickles will be ready in 1–2 hours. If you cut them big, they’ll be ready in 4–8 hours. Either way, they’ll keep in the brine for months in the fridge.

A note about radishes

  • If you’re using them, the pink of their skins will bleed out into the brine and make ALL your pickles that colour, which some find really cool but others find off-putting.
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