Small bowls of pickled vegetables are part of every meal in both Japan and Korea. As with most ancient cultures, preserving vegetables and meats so they may be eaten year round was essential to survival. Each developed their own methods for preserving foods based on local resources and geography. In Northeast Asia, salting, fermenting, and pickling hearty vegetables and tubers dominated.
Asazuke refers to both the pickles and the pickling method. Literally “shallow-pickling,” the vegetables are pickled for a short time to retain their crunchiness. They are a favorite of Japanese home cooks as they are quick, easy, and don’t require any special equipment to make. The most common vegetables used for Asazuke are daikon radish, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, carrot, and eggplant.
Asazuke – Quick Pickled Vegetables
- 3 bowls or pint jars
- 1 long English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
- 3 large Carrots, peeled and julienned (matchsticks)
- 1½ cup Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
- 3 tsp Kosher salt
- 1½ cup Unseasoned rice vinegar
- 6 tbsp Sugar
- 3 tsp Toasted sesame seeds
- Place each cut vegetable in its own bowl and mix 1 tsp salt into each. Set the bowls aside for 2-4 hours. Drain each bowl in a colander and then return it to its bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk the sugar and vinegar together until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour evenly over vegetables and let them pickle on the counter for 2 hours. Mix occasionally.Sprinkle each bowl with a tsp of sesame seeds. Serve.
- Pickles will store in the refrigerator for around week before starting to lose their crunch.
- All the vegetables can be combined into 1 bowl.