January 13, 2013: Pickled Cabbage

January 13, 2013

Pickled CabbageHere is a Japanese staple for many meals: pickled cabbage. Fresh, bright, simple, easy to make, healthy, and versatile, this delicious side complements most Japanese foods. Known as tsukemono in Japan, pickled cabbage is such a universal dish there, that it is sometimes served with breakfast! For a quick lunch, white rice, a side of fish, and pickled cabbage is a perfect light meal.

Pickled Cabbage
First make brine: add 1 Tsp. sal de mer to every 1C. H2O and bring to boil, then cool. 12-16 cups of brine should be enough for one head cabbage.

Take a small head of Chinese Cabbage (about 1 pound) wash and cut widthwise every inch. Bring to boil about 4 Qts. salted H2O. Add cabbage, thicker pieces first, and cook cabbage for no more than 2 minutes. Immediately drain and immerse cabbage in ice water.  In a large pot, add cabbage and enough cooled brine to cover cabbage. Cover with a plate and weight the plate with something heavy (I used a smaller pot filled with water.) Place 2 small pieces (4″x2″) of kombu (a Japanese seaweed) in the pot. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Store in a cool place for at least three hours. [The pressure and salt will remove bitterness from the cabbage.] Drain brine from cabbage and rinse. Drain cabbage well. Add 2 Tblsp. each lemon juice and rice vinegar and 1 Tblsp. mirin. Cool. Pickled cabbage should last for a week in the fridge.

Cabbage can be fine on its own. For variety add, shredded carrots, daikon (a Japanese radish) or chili peppers chopped fine (I added 2 chilis-seeds removed, about 4 Tblsps., to mine.) Top cabbage with shoyu, toasted sesame seeds, or toasted wakame.

I was very pleased with the final taste, but luckily, Teja was by and it was very good to get his opinion as to how “correct” my pickled cabbage was. He said I had made it a bit more hot than the cabbage he had in Japan, making it closer to the Korean kim chee, so a little less of the pepper would make it more authenticHe also said it could use a bit more sweetness, so maybe a dash more mirin could make it better. He also said cabbage is never served by itself in Japan…always with fish, rice, and usually something sour like umeboshi (pickled plum.)


One comment

  1. After 25 years of impeccable success – a reflection of the true genius of Steve’s cooking, the first ever little nudge in a better direction, was something that I dreaded giving. All must understand that it was close. Very close. No doubt the course correction (if I may) will make it aaaaaallll better.

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