Pickles are so versatile and the perfect pallet cleanser or snack. None are more refreshing than these Japanese cucumber tsukemono flavoured with ginger and a sprinkling a chili for a mild kick! They're seriously addictive!
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Tsukemono is the Japanese word for "pickles". They come in all shapes, colours and flavours, and are considered an essential side to many Japanese meals along with miso soup and rice.
Not only are they packed with complex flavour that helps cleanse the pallet, but they are also known to be nutritious and aid digestion.
In fact, Japanese people love pickles so much that there are are supposedly over 4000 different types of tsukemono!
Vegetables used for Tsukemono
Amongst the thousands of different kinds of Japanese pickles, there are a few vegetables that tend to be used more for making tsukemono. Here are a few of them:
- Daikon radish
- Ume (Japanese plum/apricot)
- Chinese leaf / Napa cabbage
- Lotus root (Renkon)
How long does it take to make Tsukemono?
The length of time it takes to make tsukemono depends purely on the type you are making. There are two main types:
Asazuke are fast pickles often made with salt, sugar and/or vinegar. They have a lighter, more refreshing flavour and take anywhere from a few hours to about 2 days to make. Asazuke have a shorter shelf life, they should be refrigerated and eaten within about 1 week.
Today's recipe is a type of asazuke!
Nukazuke take longer and are usually coated with rice bran and then fermented for a while. The rice bran and other ingredients are washed off before serving.
They are often fermented with things like salt, kombu (kelp), miso, ginger or beer. They take longer than asazuke and have a deep and complex taste. They can take anywhere between a few days and up to several months, some even claim that you can ferment them for up to a year.
Cucumber Tsukemono with ginger and chili
If possible, I recommend Japanese (or Persian) cucumbers for making pickles. They're less watery, don't contain many seeds and are perfectly crunchy. You might also know them as mini cucumbers or baby cucumbers.
If you can only access English cucumbers, I've included how to prepare them in the recipe (just one extra step). English cucumbers are quite a lot bigger than Japanese cucumbers, so for my recipe I recommend 3 Japanese cucumbers or 1 English cucumber.
One other thing, I like to smash the cucumbers a little so that they absorb more flavour. It's a great stress release too! (Just don't break them too much!)
Kyuri no Tsukemono
"Kyuri" (きゅうり) is the Japanese word for cucumber. Cucumber pickles are one of the most popular kinds of pickles and there's so many different flavours!
In my recipe, I flavour my cucumber with fresh ginger and chili to give it a refreshing kick. To pickle the cucumber itself I use salt, sugar, sushi vinegar (or rice vinegar), soy sauce and sesame oil. Not only do these help preserve it, but also improve the taste.
Despite being ready to eat after one hour, I find they taste best after 1 day of marinating. I also recommend to try and eat them within 3 days. (They don't tend to last long anyway, they're so addictive!)
By the way, if you love spicy cucumber pickles, you'll also love my Wasabi Pickled Cucumber Recipe!
Enjoy making this easy, simple and delicious Japanese cucumber pickle with ginger and chili!