shokutaku tsukemono ki
One of the easiest ways to make Japanese style pickles is to use a shokutaku tsukemono ki, or tabletop pickling pot. I picked mine up at Besia recently for under 1000 yen ($10). It’s pretty small, but makes about the right amount for lunch or dinner for two. To use it, I just chop some vegetables (I like a mix that can include cabbage, cucumber, carrot, turnip, daikon, etc.), rub them with salt, throw in some seasonings like ginger, myoga, or kombu, and then put on the lid and screw it down. The pickling pot has a screw and spring-plate combination that applies pressure to the vegetables, helping to squeeze out their liquid and create a brine that they pickle in. If left at room temperature, your pickles will be ready to eat in just a few hours.
The shokutaku tsukemono ki is a handy device that simplifies the old-fashioned way of making pickles in which cabbages and other vegetables are salted and stacked in large buckets and then topped with lids and heavy rocks so that they can pickle in their own brine. When we visited our friend Tomomi’s grandparents in Okayama last winter we saw their pickling shed, which had several buckets full of home-grown cabbages that had been pickling for a few months or longer resting alongside their homemade miso. The rocks are so heavy that they have a pulley system to help lift them off of the cabbages. Since having a pickling shed like this isn’t feasible for most urban denizens, the tabletop pickling pot is a great kitchen tool for those who still crave the taste of homemade pickles even in an urban environment. There’s a recipe for “impatient pickles,” a quick pickled side dish made with a shokutaku tsukemono ki in Washoku.
quick cabbage, cucumber, and carrot pickles made in a shokutaku tsukemono ki (front)
copyright 2008 LMS