Tsukemono
as a Digestive Aid

Tsukemono is a side dish of pickled fruits and vegetables that are eaten with rice at almost every traditional meal. 

Tsukemono is an essential part of Japanese cuisine and can be used as a palate cleanser, garnish, condiment, or as a digestive aid. 

Some Japanese pickles can be made in a couple of hours and others will take much longer.

Gari or sushi ginger is probably the most well known Japanese pickle in America and is eaten whenever you order sushi.

Pickled plums also known as umeboshi or ume (for short) is another well known Japanese pickle.

Umeboshi's red color comes from the shiso leaf.  The shiso leaf is an essential herb used to flavor and color Japanese pickles.

The Shiso Leaf

Shiso is also called the beefsteak plant, Japanese basil, or perilla.

It is a member of the mint family and is an essential herb used in Japanese cuisine. 

Shiso comes in either a green or reddish purple color. 

The shiso leaf has a complex flavor ranging from basil to cilantro to mint to cinnamon with citrus notes.  And shiso is a great source of calcium and iron. 

Shiso leaves are used to color pickled plums as well as season and garnish Japanese dishes. 

It's also believed that shiso has properties that can help to preserve and sterilize food.

Umeboshi or Pickled Plums

When I was a young girl we would eat umeboshi or ume with our onigiri or Japanese rice balls. 

These pickled plums have a very sour salty taste and you'd only need to eat just one.

There are various ways to make pickled plums or umeboshi.  And it's probably best to use a container that's non-corrosive as this ferment involves heavy brining.

To make these Japanese pickles requires ume plums, brining salt, and reddish purple shiso leaves. 

BTW, this process can take months to complete.

How to Make Umeboshi

As you can see this is a more labor intensive pickling process, but these Japanese pickles will last for a long time when done correctly.

Most people will have to buy umeboshi from an Asian grocery store or from a grocery store that has an Oriental food section.

Be careful of the added dyes and MSG.  I've only found one brand so far that did not have either one and this was at a health food store.

Tsukemono Recipe - Quick Japanese Pickles

These Japanese pickles are basically salted vegetables and can be ready in a very short time.

They are pretty perishable and will need to be eaten in the near future.

Easy Tsukemono Recipe

Add other seasonings of your choice such as chili peppers, garlic, ginger, shiso leaf, etc. 

Ingredients: 

  • Cabbage
  • Sea Salt
  • Dried Kombu

Instructions:

  1. Chop the cabbage into 2 inch squares and put cabbage into a freezer bag or into a glass bowl.
  2. Add the dried kombu and sea salt.  Close the bag and shake.  Or stir ingredients together in the bowl.
  3. Set aside for about 10 minutes.  When the kombu becomes soft, take it out and thinly slice.
  4. Put thinly sliced kombu back into the bag or bowl.  Then let sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Next you will squeeze the excess liquid out of the cabbage and kombu.
  6. You can also rinse the excess salt off before squeezing to lower the sodium content of this easy tsukemono.
  7. It's best to eat this tsukemono in the near future.

You can use many flavoring agents in quick tsukemono recipes such as citrus zest, citrus juice, and flavored oils to add more depth of flavor.

The sky is pretty much the limit or your imagination.

Tsukemono can Aid Digestion of Meals

Tsukemono adds texture and flavor to Japanese meals.  And it can also help you digest your meals when properly prepared.

There are many types of lacto fermented tsukemono or Japanese pickles that you can make to help aid digestion. 

Lacto fermented Japanese pickles will also last a lot longer than quick pickled tsukemono recipes.

Tsukemono Recipe -
Lacto Fermented Daikon

Daikon is a very popular Japanese radish that is very crunchy and it's perfect for a lacto fermented tsukemono recipe. 

You can make lacto fermented Japanese pickles with just about any type of fruit or vegetable.

Other popular choices for lacto fermented Japanese pickles are cucumber, cabbage, and carrots.

Flavor lacto fermented recipes with seaweed, green onion, garlic, ginger, hot peppers, spices, or shiso leaves.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Sliced Organic Daikon Radishes
  • 2 tsp. Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. Organic Kelp Powder
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (sliced)
  • 2 Chillis (sliced)
  • 2 tsp. of Celtic Sea Salt

Instructions:

  1. Use a mandolin or a food processor with your daikon radish to create julienne slices.
  2. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds with a little salt in a mortar and pestle - or other technology.
  3. Put the sliced daikon radish, ground seeds, kelp powder, and sea salt (2 heaping tsp. or 1 tbsp.) in a big mixing bowl.
  4. Massage with your hands to help release juices or you can let it sit for 30 minutes or so.
  5. Add in the sliced garlic and chillis - massage with the other ingredients.
  6. Then press ingredients into a large glass jar and fill to about 1 inch from the top - making sure ingredients are covered with juices.
  7. Cap jar and let sit at room temperature for about 1 to 3 weeks. 
  8. Be sure to occasionally release pressure from the jar and keep a plate or bowl underneath the jar. 
  9. Store pickled daikon in the refrigerator when the ferment is complete.

Make sure to use enough sodium to prevent mold from growing in your lacto ferments, but don't add a lot of salt.

Or you'll end up with a very salty Japanese tsukemono!


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