Senmai-zuke: Pickled Turnip
This typical Kyoto recipe is a simple way to make fresh, home-made pickles (what we call “otsukemono” – 漬物 - in Japanese) in as little as 12 hours. It’s great as a “chopstick vacation” – a tiny side dish to contrast with the flavor of the main dishes.
As my mom is from Kyushu, this isn’t something she would normally make at home. However, I remember Senmai-zuke very well from growing up near Kyoto, and I always liked it. The image of Senmai-zuke displayed in front of the pickles stores is something which always reminds me of Kyoto.
- Turnips – one rather big one
- Salt – one teaspoon
- Rice vinegar – 50 cc
- Sugar – 3 tablespoons
- Konbu – one 15 cm. long piece
- Dried red peppers – one small piece
[If you don’t have rice vinegar, use 50 cc of apple cider vinegar and mellow it with 4 tablespoons of sugar.]
- Peel the turnip and slice it crosswise as thin as possible. (If you have a slicer, use it!)
- Sprinkle the salt thoroughly over the turnip slices.
- Leave the turnip in the salt for half an hour. In that time, it will start to “sweat” (give off excess moisture.)
- Mix the rice vinegar and the sugar, then add the chopped dried red pepper. This is your pickling agent.
- Clean the dirt off of the Konbu with a wet kitchen towell and slice in thin, long pieces using a pair of scissors.
- After the 30 minutes are up, wash lightly the turnip to remove the salt and squeeze the slices to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Place alternate slices of turnip and konbu in layers in a tupperware container.
- Pour the vinegar-based pickling agent and let it sit in the fridge for at least one night.
click to enlarge
Serve in very small quantities as a side dish. (You can also eat the konbu.)