Daikon Tsukemono Reciepe (Japanese Pickles)

I am staying in Japan at the moment and the the mother of the household decided to make some pickled daikon. I believe this is something that is traditionally done in at this time of the year – In autumn to preserve them for winter.

I am a fan of pickling in general – I enjoy gherkins and sour kraut (perhaps thanks to my German blood) and once I got into Korean and Japanese foods I found I also like kimchee and tsukemono. Pickled foods are often a healthy choice and I find it pretty interesting that traditionally a lot of pickling techniques relied on natually occuring lactobactillis (which incidentally makes them probiotic).

Tsukemono is a very broad term – it refers to all types of Japanese pickled vegetables and I enjoy a lot of them – although I have had some pretty nasty ones from time to time.

I quite like tsukemono made from daikon but I have two problems in obtaining them at home.

  1. They are not always readily available outside Japan.
  2. They often have a nasty saccharin tang about them… I thought it unlikely that a pickle would have artificial sweeter in it but after having the ingredients list translated it turns out that a lot of them really do have artificial sweeter in them.

That is why I was so excited to learn that pickling you own daikon is really easy! I do have access to all the ingredients – including the daikon – and I know there will not be anything nasty in there. Unfortunatey there is a lot of sugar in the recipie. When try this myself I might look at reducing that a bit – but I also tell myself that the majority of the sugar will remain in the pickling fluid.

I call for Japanese vinegar in the recipie as I suspect it has a milder flavour than typical western white vinegar. If you have any trouble getting Japanese you should be fine with any rice vinegar or substitute for the best tasting white vinegar you can muster up.

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Kg Daikon (3 Daikon)
  • 1 Cup Sake
  • 1 Cup Japanese Vinegar
  • ½ Cup Salt
  • 500 Grams Sugar

You will also need a large container or pickling jar.

Method

  1. Peel the daikon, remove the ends and cut the daikon into lengths that will fit into your picking jar or container. Cut these pieces in half length wise.
  2. Add the daikon and all the other ingredients to your pickling jar and shake it up till the dry ingredients are reasonably dissolved.
  3. Leave to pickle at least 24 hours – it may keep improving for up to a week. The water level should rise and the daikon shrink slightly as water is drawn out of them, so if they are not completely covered you might be ok. I do not yet know how long they are good for.
  4. To serve cut the pickled daikon into slices about half a centimetre thick (50 mm). Optionally you can sprinkle crushed sesame seeds over the sliced daikon in their serving dish.

Here are some photos I took as we did this:

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