Common Tsukemono


Umeboshi are Japanese plums (related to apricots), which have been salted and dried. The wrinkly red pickles are extremely salty and sour, although sweeter versions exist. Umeboshi serve as a preservative and digestive. They are eaten with all types of traditional meals, and often accompany the rice in boxed lunches (bento). Umeboshi are also one of the most popular fillings for rice balls (onigiri).


Takuan is made of Japanese radishes (daikon), which have been sun dried and pickled in a mixture of salt, rice bran and sugar. The finished product is a sweet, crunchy pickle that is sliced and served alongside rice or other dishes. Takuan ranges from brownish white to fluorescent yellow in color. In Akita Prefecture they are additionally smoked and enjoyed as iburigakko.


Assortments of nukazuke pickles consisting of cucumber, carrots, eggplant, daikon or turnip (kabu) are often served alongside set menu meals (teishoku) or as a part of the rice set (shokuji) in kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) meals. Often similar assortments of vegetables pickled in salt or miso are served instead.

Kyuri Asazuke

Kyuri asazuke are simple pickles made of cucumbers marinated in a salt brine (shiozuke) that is sometimes seasoned with konbu, togarashi pepper and/or vinegar. Whole cucumbers served on a stick are often pickled this way and sold by street vendors at festivals, temple approaches and popular tourist spots, especially during spring and summer when they are a refreshing treat.

Hakusai no Sokusekizuke

Hakusai no Sokusekizuke is a quick and simple salt pickle dish made of lightly salted hakusai cabbage which is often mixed with carrots and cucumber and seasoned with yuzu zest, konbu and togarashi pepper. The result is a salty, crisp pickle with a slightly spicy citrus flavor. It is one of the most common pickles found in Japan and is often served alongside set menu meals (teishoku).


Narazuke are deep brown pickles native to the Nara Region of Japan, from which they get their name. Vegetables, typically daikon, uri or cucumber, are soaked in sakelees (kasuzuke) for several years. As a result the pickles have a strong, pungent flavor which is often punctuated with an overtly alcoholic bite.


Shibazuke is a Kyoto specialty pickle made of cucumber, eggplant, perilla leaves (shiso), ginger and myoga (a mild flavored relative of ginger) pickled in plum vinegar (umezu), a byproduct of making pickled plums (umeboshi). The salty, slightly sour, purple pickles are commonly served in Kyoto cuisine.


Senmaizuke is another Kyoto specialty pickle. It is made of thin slices of turnip arranged brined in sweet vinegar seasoned with konbu and togarashi pepper. The resulting thin disks (senmaizuke means thousand layer pickle) are sweet and sour with a slightly crunchy texture.


Saikyozuke (lit. West Kyoto pickle) are slices of fish, typically a whitefish such as cod or sablefish, which have been preserved and marinated in miso (fermented soya bean) paste. The slices are then grilled or broiled, and served either hot or at room temperature. Fish preserved this way gets a sweet, caramelized flavor due to the miso.


Nozawana are a specialty pickle from Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture; however, they are commonly served all over Japan. Nozawana are a type of turnip greens which are dried and pickled in a salt brine seasoned with togarashi pepper and wasabi. The salty, slightly spicy leaves and stems are served cut into bite-sized pieces or chopped into a fine relish.


Local to Matsumae Town in Hokkaido, matsumaezuke is an interesting combination of regional specialties of Hokkaido such as squid, konbu, kazunoko (herring roe) and carrots, seasoned with sake, soy sauce and mirin (sweet cooking wine). It has attained nationwide popularity.


Most tourists are probably already familiar with gari, the thin slices of sweet pickled ginger that is served alongside sushi. Gari has a sweet and sour flavor with a slightly spicy bite. It is meant to be eaten between sushi pieces as a palate cleanser, so that the unique flavor of each piece can be fully appreciated. Gari is naturally light yellow, but may also be dyed pink.

Beni Shoga

Beni Shoga is julienned young ginger that has been pickled in plum vinegar (umezu), a byproduct of making pickled plums (umeboshi). The bright red, salty and spicy pickles are served as a garnish on top of a variety of dishes such as gyudon, takoyaki and yakisoba.


Fukujinzuke is a mixture of Japanese radish (daikon), lotus root, cucumber and eggplant which are preserved in a soya sauce and sweet cooking wine (mirin) base. The sweet brown or red relish is served as a garnish to Japanese curry (kare raisu).


Rakkyo are sweet pickled scallions that are served alongside Japanese curry. Rakkyo lend a sweet, crunchy bite that, like fukujinzuke, helps to augment the spicy and

Food Through Culture: Ambrosia Salad

The dish features a daring combination of jet-puffed marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple and mandarin oranges. It’s most commonly finished with a smattering of cool whip (originally sour cream) and chilled in the fridge overnight, encouraging the ingredients to congeal into a dense, syrupy mass. More gourmet renditions have been known to include homemade marshmallows, crushed pecans, maraschino cherries and other fresh fruit. But beyond the various recipes, each ambrosia salad offers the same feeling: The quiet thrill of knowing you’re about to do something you shouldn’t, followed by pure, sticky bliss as you place that first goopy spoonful into your mouth.

A fruit salad without morals, nothing about ambrosia indicates that it should be served as a main course. Nevertheless, this is where it’s most likely to appear. I have never seen ambrosia on a dessert table. But have bared witness to it resting amongst mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and stuffing at countless potlucks and celebrations.

The mixture of refrigerated coconut and sour cream is rumoured to have begun in the southern U.S. in the 1800s, with the earliest written reference of the salad published in a cookbook from 1867, Dixie Cookery by Maria Massey Barringer. Thanks to newly built railroads that linked the west coast with the east, imported ingredients like coconut became easier to access. By the 1870s, the proliferation of imported ingredients meant ambrosia recipes were common.


Colcannon is an Irish dish of boiled potatoes and cabbage or kale mashed together and flavored with onion, shallots, or leeks and cream or butter. Colcannon is strongly associated with Samhain, in which it was used for various forms of divination.

Linguistic evidence suggests that cabbages were known to the Iron Age Celts. The Romans believed cabbages to have several medicinal qualities. While cabbage was a food of the working classes in Medieval Europe, the other principal ingredient of colcannon, potatoes, were a New World food that arrived in the sixteenth century.

The word “colcannon” comes from the Gaelic “cal ceannann” (‘white headed cabbage’). Some hold that the ‘cannon’ part of the name might be derived from the old Irish ‘cainnenn’ (‘garlic, onion, or leek’, depending on the translation). This suggests that early forms of colcannon were simple mixtures of brassica and allium. The earliest Irish reference to colcannon is found in the Diary of Wiliam Bulkely, of Bryndda, near Amlwch in Anglesey, in 1735. Colcannon appeared in England in 1774. In England, colcannon became a favorite of the upper classes.

1 lb shredded white cabbage

1 lb potatoes peeled and quartered

2 leeks finely chopped (white part only)

1/4 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

pinch of ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter

Boil the cabbage in water until cooked; drain and keep warm. Place the potatoes and leeks together in a pot of water and boil until tender, about 15 to 20 min. Drain the potatoes and leeks and mash in a large pot with the milk and butter. Stir in the cabbage. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Cheddar Zucchini Bake Casserole

  • 6 Cups thinly sliced cooked zucchini
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Salt cooked zucchini.  Mix egg yolks, sour cream and flour.  Fold in egg whites.  Layer half zucchini, egg mixture and cheese in a 12×7 1/2×2 inch dish.  Crumble bacon over layer.  Repeat with a second layer.  Mix butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle over.  Bake at350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

“Stephenson’s Apple Farm” Inspired Green Rice Casserole

  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 14 1/2-ounces of evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of seasoned salt, and pepper
  • Juice and grated rind of one lemon
  • Dash of paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix rice, parsley, cheese, onion, and garlic in greased 2-quart casserole. Blend rest of ingredients. Mix into the rice mixture. Sprinkle top with paprika if desired. Bake about 45 minutes, or until like a soft custard.

Easy Sweet Potato Fries

2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
1½ teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt *

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the sweet potatoes, if desired, and cut them into slabs, batons, wedges, coins, half-moons, whatever your heart desires. They can be any size, really, as long as they are not less than ¼ inch and not more than 1 inch thick.

Place them in a large bowl and drizzle with the oil. Season with salt and your choice of spices *, if using, and toss to coat. (Use about 1½ teaspoons salt if you’re not using additional seasoning; adjust salt content depending on your preferred spice mix.)

Add the sweet potatoes onto the baking sheet, scraping out any seasoning or fat clinging to the bowl, and arrange them in a single layer.

Roast, turning once if their bottoms darken quickly, until tender and browned, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on size.

* Try adding a teaspoon or two of any of your favorite seasonings. Got some herbes de Provence? Toss it in there. Spanish paprika? Definitely. Za’atar, curry powder Cajun seasonings, Old Bay?  Why not.

Sorghum Glazed Baby Carrots

1 cup hard apple cider
½ cup sorghum
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bunches baby carrots (about 1 pound)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cider, sorghum, lemon juice, orange juice, and butter in a skillet. Bring to a simmer, then add the carrots in a single layer. You may need to cook them in batches, depending on the size of your pan.

Lightly season the carrots with salt and pepper and cook until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and continue to simmer the sauce until it is reduced to a thin glaze.

Before serving, put the carrots back in the pan and reheat them in the glaze.

Stone Ground Grits – The Real Thing

4 cups spring or filtered water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup coarse stone-ground white grits, not instant or quick

1 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the water, 1 tablespoon of butter, and the salt to a boil. Add the grits gradually, stirring constantly. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the grits are thickened, about 15 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the milk and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, partially covered, stirring occasionally to prevent the grits from sticking. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup milk and continue to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the grits are tender and thick, about 40 minutes. Stir in the pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Adjust the seasonings as desired.

Note: The better the quality of grits the better the finished dish. Here is a time an heirloom product would be the right choice such as Anson Mills grits.

Creamed Fresh Peas

This is honestly one of my favorite accompaniments to a fried chicken dinner. Try it once and you’ll fall in love with the combination.

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh peas
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water

Add the milk, sugar, salt, and pepper in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat to warm the milk, but do not simmer. If the milk boils it will likely separate. Whisk to dissolve the sugar.

Add the butter and let it melt, then add the peas.  Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes for fresh peas.  Again watch to keep below a simmer.

While the peas are cooking, whisk the flour into the water in a small bowl to make a slurry.

The peas should be soft but not mushy, and the fresh peas should still have a little pop when you bite into them. Add the flour mixture to the peas and gently stir. Raise the heat just slightly so the milk bubbles around the edges of the pan, and stir constantly until the mixture thickens to a sauce consistency you desire.

Serve immediately.

Fried Collard Greens

1 pound collard greens, washed
Vegetable oil for frying
Freshly ground black pepper
Ground hot red pepper

Stem the collards and remove the veins. Chiffonade the greens into 1/8-inch-wide. Spread out on paper towels to dry. Dry very well.

Pour enough oil to reach the halfway mark into a heavy skillet and heat to 350 degrees. When hot add the dry greens by the handful, the fat will boil up considerably. Fry until crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove all the greens with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Continue to fry in batches until all the greens are cooked. Just before serving, season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot red pepper.  Salting early will cause the greens to wilt.