Literally translating to “pickled things,” tsukemono are Japanese pickles for a refreshing flavor hit to cleanse the palate. Also used as a garnish, condiment, side dish, or digestive, tsukemono is the overarching word for pickles commonly served as okazu (small side dishes) to accompany most Japanese cuisines, or eaten as a otsumami (snack) when drinking. A traditional meal of rice and miso soup typically comes with a side of pickled vegetables, whose history began long before the days of refrigeration to keep perishables for longer. Preserved in salt, brine, or a bed of rice bran, pickles can also be made from miso, soy sauce, and more, using vegetables like cabbage and cucumber, or daikon radish, and even seaweed.
Characteristically crunchy and made from all sorts of vegetables, tsukemono pop with color and different flavors. Each prefecture sports its own specialty, and even features as its own course in luxurious kaiseki banquets. Sour umeboshi (pickled plums) are divisive but arguably addictive, while bright yellow takuan made from radish are common like beni shoga (pickled ginger, served with gyudon or yakisoba). Nara’s own narazuke pickles vegetables in sake lees, while Kyoto is also known for its high-quality vegetable harvests yielding delicious local pickles. Join a dining experience with us to taste different types of tsukemono, or enjoy them as a side dish on a food tour or cooking class. A small but integral part of dining in Japan, get your tsukemono fresh and zingy.
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