Fukujinzuke is a tangy and crunchy pickle made with a variety of vegetables and is typically served with Japanese style curry. Try making your own from scratch at home with this delicious recipe!
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What is Fukujinzuke?
Fukujinzuke (福神漬け) is a popular type of Japanese non-fermented pickles. Its origin remains a mystery, but a popular belief is that it’s named after the Seven Lucky Gods “Shichi Fukujin” (七福神) because it uses seven types of vegetables.
The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries defines fukujinzuke as pickled in soy sauce with at least five of the following ingredients:
- Daikon radish
- Sword bean
- Lotus root
- Bamboo shoot
- Shiitake mushroom
- Chili pepper
- Shiso seeds
- Sesame seeds
When it comes to fukujinzuke, it’s hard to forget about its perfect pairing with curry rice. It’s an essential topping for Japanese curry rice (kare raisu).
The spicy, rich curry flavor and the refreshing sourness and sweetness of fukujinzuke complement each other, making it unimaginable for me to have curry rice without it. Hence, it is sometimes called “Japanese curry pickles” in English.
Incidentally, many people associate fukujinzuke with a vibrant red hue, but store-bought ones use food coloring to produce that color. Homemade versions tend to have an ochre-like color instead.
How I Developed This Recipe
Ingredients and Substitution Ideas
- Daikon Radish: This vegetable is vital in fukujinzuke, but if daikon radish is unavailable, consider using another type of radish as a substitute.
- Other Vegetables: For this recipe, I incorporated eggplant, cucumber, lotus root, and ginger. Refer to the section above for suitable vegetable substitutions if you need alternatives.
- Dried Kelp (Kombu): Kombu is essential for imparting depth to fukujinzuke. To learn more, please see the Complete Guide to Kombu.
- Salt: This is utilized to draw the excess moisture out of the vegetables and aid in preserving them.
- Dashi Stock: You have flexibility with your choice of dashi. instant granules or dashi packets are convenient options. For those who prefer a homemade touch, consider recipes like my favorite dashi, simple awase dashi, or even vegan dashi. However, if you’re in a pinch, you can omit this ingredient due to its minimal quantity.
- Red Wine: Red and white wines are acceptable alternatives if sake is inaccessible.
- Soy Sauce: Kikkoman soy sauce is a reliable option for a cost-effective choice. Refer to our complete soy sauce guide for a comprehensive guide on selecting the right soy sauce.
- Sugar: I used light brown cane sugar to add depth and sweetness to the pickles. White sugar is a viable substitute.
- Vinegar: Unseasoned rice vinegar is the top recommendation for this dish. For insights into the best rice vinegar brands and other essential Japanese condiments, check out my article “20 Most Useful Condiments and Seasonings for Japanese Cooking.”
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Fill a large bowl just over halfway with water. As you cut the vegetables, place them in this water to prevent them from discoloring.
Start with daikon radish: peel it, and cut it flat along the fibers into 1 cm wide strips.
Lay them on a cutting board and cut them lengthwise into 4 equal pieces (so they become 1 to 1.5 cm square sticks).
Turn it 90 degrees and cut 4 to 5 mm wide from the end. Thinly slice these sticks and drop them into the water.
For the eggplant, peel it and use the same method as the daikon radish. However, keep in mind that eggplant will soften once salted, so cutting it a little thicker than daikon is recommended.
For the Japanese or Persian cucumber, peel, remove the ends, and cut in half lengthways (or quarters if thick). Thinly slice and add to the water. Lastly, peel and finely dice fresh ginger.
Drain the water from the bowl and add the ginger with salt. Mix everything well. Let it rest for about 20 minutes.
This process allows the salt to draw out excess moisture from the vegetables. In the meantime, you can prepare the lotus root and pickling liquid.
Heat a small pot of water. While you wait, peel the lotus root and thinly slice it. Then, cut each slice into smaller pieces.
Once the water is boiling, blanch the lotus root slices for about 1 minute. Drain them and let them cool.
Combine soy sauce, dashi stock, red wine, light brown sugar, and rice vinegar in a saucepan. Heat this mixture on medium and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
After that, remove it from the heat and let it cool down.
After the 20-minute rest, you’ll notice the bowl of vegetables has accumulated water. Drain them using a sieve and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Transfer these vegetables to a sealable freezer bag. Add the lotus root, the cooled pickling liquid, and the kombu.
Push out any air and seal the bag. For safety, place this bag in a container to avoid leaks. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours to let the flavors meld.
Enjoy these pickles with Japanese curry rice! The tanginess of the pickles complements the richness of the curry beautifully.
You can also eat it on its own as a side pickle!
By the way, in my experience, this Fukujinzuke recipe tastes the best on the third day!
Homemade fukujinzuke can be refrigerated in an airtight container with its marinade for up to a week or frozen for up to a month.
For freezing, use a freezer bag instead of plastic wrap to include the marinade. It’s best to freeze after letting the flavor soak in for a day. When defrosting, transfer to the fridge and thaw slowly overnight.
More Japanese Pickles Recipes
If you loved this fukujinzuke, check out some of my other easy non-fermented pickle recipes!
- Ginger and Chili Cucumber Pickles
- Wasabi Pickled Cucumber
- Bettarazuke (Sweet Pickled Daikon)
- Kohaku Namasu (Pickled Daikon and Carrot Salad)
I hope you enjoy this homemade fukujinzuke recipe! If you try it out, I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
Fukujinzuke (Japanese Pickles for Curry)
- Fill a large bowl with water just over half way. Place the vegetables in the water as you cut to prevent discoloration.
- Peel 300 g daikon radish(s) and cut lengthways into 4 slices. Cut each slice lengthways into 4 sticks, then line them up and thinly slice before dropping them into the water.
- Repeat this method with 75 g eggplant(s) and then add to the water.
- Peel 50 g Japanese or Persian cucumber(s) and remove the ends. Cut in half lengthways (or quarters if the cucumber is thick) then thinly slice before adding to the water.
- Peel and finely dice 10 g fresh ginger. Drain the water from the bowl and add the ginger and 2 tbsp salt. Mix thoroughly and rest for 20 minutes to allow the salt to draw out the excess moisture. While you wait, prepare the lotus root and pickling liquid.
- Start heating a small pot of water. Peel and thinly slice 75 g lotus root, then cut each slice into small pieces.
- Once the water is boiling, add the lotus root and boil for 1 minute. After 1 minute, drain and cool.
- Take a saucepan and add 3 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp dashi stock, 3 tbsp red wine, 3 tbsp light brown sugar and 1 tbsp rice vinegar. Heat on medium and boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool.
- Once 20 minutes have passed, you should find that the bowl of vegetables has accumulated water. Pour through a sieve to drain and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- Transfer the vegetables to a sealable freezer bag and add the renkon, cooled pickling liquid and 5 g kombu. Push the air out and seal, then store in a container to prevent any leaks. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
- Enjoy with Japanese curry rice!