An easy guide to making Tsukemono (Japanese pickles)

I sometimes serve pickles alongside a martini as an accompanying snack. A pickled onion is the garnish of a Gibson Martini while I like Polish-style pickled gherkins on the side as well.

However, I am also a fan of Japanese pickles – tsukemono / 漬物 – which I tend to find more delicate than their robust European cousins, so I thought they would make an ideal counterbalance to a martini. They’re also quick and easy to make.

Here is a recipe for cucumber tsukemono:

-Prep time: about 15 mins
-Waiting around time: 15 more minutes and then 1-4 days

You will need
-1 British cucumber or 3 Japanese cucumbers
-Rice vinegar
-Mirin (optional)

To prepare
-Wash and dry the cucumber.

-Slice it into rounds, about the thickness of a British pound coin.

-As British cucumbers are larger than their Japanese counterparts I slice the rounds in half as well.

-Lay the slices out on a plate and sprinkle over 3 tsp salt.
-Leave for 15 minutes.
-Rinse off the salt and pat dry the cucumber with kitchen towel.

-Mix half a cup of rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar as a substitute), with a dash of mirin (optional), 3 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt
-Stir with a non-metallic object (apparently metal reacts with the vinegar, changing its flavour). I use a wooden chopstick.
-Put the cucumber into a sealable container and cover with the vinegar mixture.

-Leave to pickle for at least a day, although preferably for 3-4 days.

You can add a cup of wakame seaweed as well if you want.

Once they’re ready, pick them out of the jar using clean chopsticks so you don’t contaminate the pickles. You can serve them on their own as a taster dish, or as a palate cleanser, between courses or as a side dish.

An accompanying martini is optional.

Or is it?

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