Japanese Style Pickled Onions

So if you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know that I spent a considerable amount of time living in Japan.

I love Japanese cuisine and I consider myself somthing of a "western expert" on the subject. I can roll my own sushi (I know that the word "sushi" actually refers to the vinegared rice and NOT the nori, fish, or other ingredients), I have mastered tempura, teriyaki, sukiyaki, yakitori, and many other authentic dishes. I know that the Tepanyaki (or cook in front of you on your table) dinenrs most Americans go out for is no closer to authentic Japanese cuisine than I am to being a real Japanese person! However, I do occasionally eat at my locan Tepanyaki restaurant and really enjoy it for what it is!

The one thing that I have had a little trouble mastering is the Japanese style pickled vegetable, or TSUKEMONO. The Japanese are masters of pickle making, and tsukemono varies from daikon and other vegies pickled in fermented rice bran, to simple, rough cut veggies tossed in miso and rice wine vinegar, to baby cukes soaked in salt water with a few chili peppers.

If you visit my blog entries on 11/14/11 and 11/20/11 you can see my mostly successful attempt at Daikon Nuka Zuke (Diakon radish picked in a fermented rice bran paste). They came out a little too salty, but I ate and enjoyed them anyway!

One recipe I brought home with me that I find very successful, is "RAKKYO" or pickled Japanese scallions (baby onions) . This is what www.eat-japan.com says about Rakkyo-

Rakkyo:Pickled Scallions...Japanese curry, a milder variation of the Indian dish, is an everyday favourite and is usually served with pickled vegetables such as rakkyo (scallions), which are normally pickled in salt (shiozuke), soy sauce (shoyuzuke) or vinegar and sugar (amazuzuke). Rakkyo has a crisp texture with real bite, and a flavour which is not entirely dissimilar to onion and garlic. Rakkyo's reputation as a vegetable full of healthy properties continues to grow steadily outside of Japan.

While Japanese scallions are very hard to come by here in the states, pearl onions abound! So I use a bag of frozen pearl onions for this recipe with amazingly close results to the original. To be honest when I can get to the Japanese markets down in LA, I prefer to buy them, but I eat them so often that it is a challenge to keep my fridge stocked with rakkyo, so I do make the "Julie-cheat-version" every so often. Here is the recipe!

Pickled Pearl Onions

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup brown (or coconut palm) sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Lb fresh or frozen peeled pearly onions
3-5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
combine the first 4 ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a brisk boil.

Place the onions and garlic in a non-reactive container.

Pour the boiling pickling liquid over the onions and garlic, stir gently and allow the mixture to macerate in the fridge for 10-14 days before enjoying.

Serve with Japanese curry, or fried rice.

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