Kanako's Kitchen

Senmai-zuke: Pickled Turnip

Posted in Chopstick Vacation, Recipe, side dish by Kanako Noda on January 14, 2010

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
  • [If you don’t have rice vinegar, use 50 cc of apple cider vinegar and mellow it with 4 tablespoons of sugar.]

  • Konbu – one 15 cm. long piece
  • Dried red peppers – one small piece


  1. Peel the turnip and slice it crosswise as thin as possible. (If you have a slicer, use it!)
  2. Sprinkle the salt thoroughly over the turnip slices.
  3. Leave the turnip in the salt for half an hour. In that time, it will start to “sweat” (give off excess moisture.)
  4. Mix the rice vinegar and the sugar, then add the chopped dried red pepper. This is your pickling agent.
  5. Clean the dirt off of the Konbu with a wet kitchen towell and slice in thin, long pieces using a pair of scissors.
  6. 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.
  7. Place alternate slices of turnip and konbu in layers in a tupperware container.
  8. 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.)

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7 Responses

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  1. Jennie said, on March 20, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Love this idea…I can’t wait until my turnips are ready. Thanks xx

  2. Jenn said, on April 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    How long does this last in the fridge? Thanks!

    • kanako said, on May 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      It’s said from 2 to 5 days is the best to eat, but I can’t say exactly how many days because it’s all home made and no preservatives added.

  3. tammylleanne said, on May 17, 2013 at 4:34 am


  4. Rita said, on May 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Kanako,

    I can’t find dry red pepper anywhere.

    Is there any other ingredient (easier to find) that I can use to replace it as pickling agent?

    thanks =)

    • anthill said, on November 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Don’t think dry red pepper is an absolute necessity. The pickling agent is the vinegar and salt. Sugar and others are for flavor. That said, dry red pepper can be found in the ethnic foods (such as Mexican, Indian, etc.) section.

  5. Lee Ann said, on November 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Can this be canned? Does it keep in brine liquid for a good amount of time?

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