Pickling, devised thousands of years ago as a humble method of food preservation, is an art and a craft found in cuisines all around the world, and for good reason. One bite of these crisp, tangy, salty, and subtly sour Japanese pickled cucumbers makes a compelling case to add pickles to every meal.
There’s just something about the combination of cucumbers, vinegar, salt, and spices that creates a flavor explosion in your mouth. Pickles are a perfect condiment for sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. They add a zing to salads and make a great snack on their own.
Best of all, when you make your own pickles, you get complete control over the process to create fresher flavors perfectly tailored to your tastes. With just a few simple ingredients and some patience, you can create your own delicious pickles at home.
Whether you’re a pickle aficionado or just dipping your toes into the world of pickling, this take on Asian pickled cucumbers from the new cookbook Plantbased by Alexander Gershberg should be a staple in your kitchen! They’re the perfect addition to any meal or snack, and they’re sure to add a little zing to your day.
If you’ve ever craved the crunch of a juicy pickle, you’ll instantly understand the universal appeal of this foolproof formula.
Eat with the seasons and adapt your pickles to follow suit. Pretty much anything can be pickled, but here are a few of my favorites:
Cucumbers are the easiest vegetables to pickle. If you’ve never pickled before, don’t panic! Here’s how you would go about it:
First, slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out any large, watery seeds. Once it’s de-seeded, cut the cucumber into bite-sized pieces, about 1-inch in size, keeping them as consistent and even as possible.
Now, in a bowl, mix the cucumber with some salt and let it sit for about 30 minutes. This will draw out any excess moisture and give the cucumber a nice crunch. Afterwards, give the cucumber a firm squeeze to release any water and discard the excess liquid.
Next, we’ll move on to the fun part—the marinade. In a glass container with a lid, add the cucumber slices, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, chili (or jalapeno, depending on how spicy you’re feeling), and sesame oil. Give the jar a good shake to thoroughly coat everything and leave it on the countertop at room temperature to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if you can wait that long.
Once your cucumbers have marinated to perfection, store them in the fridge, where they will keep well for up to one week. Serve them up as a tasty snack or add them to your favorite sandwich for a burst of flavor. Enjoy!
Since these are quick pickled cucumbers and not canned for further preservation, they need to be kept refrigerated in an airtight glass jar for up to one week.
Cucumbers themselves have tons of vitamins and minerals to offer, including vitamins K, A, and C, folic acid, potassium, and silica. Altogether, these contribute to strengthening skin, hair, nails, and bones.
Known as “tsukemono” (literally “pickled things”), Japanese pickles often feature naturally salty ingredients such as miso, soy sauce, seaweed, or koji (the spores used for making sake) to add both flavor and their naturally preservative properties.
Did you stock up on too many cucumbers at the farmers market? Never! It’s impossible to have too much on hand when you have these fantastic recipes at your disposal.
Ferment like a pro and make scrumptious and straightforward meals with the Plantbased: 80 nourishing, umami-rich recipes from the kitchen of a passionate chef cookbook. Thanks to vegan chef and author Alexander Gershberg, you’ll learn how to explore the versatility of plant-based cooking with a blend of Japanese and Israeli techniques. Forget about boring old recipes—Plantbased will you show you how to use veggies like parsnips, celeriac, kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichokes, and other often overlooked ingredients to create dishes that are bursting with flavor and without any complicated methods or equipment needed.
This Japanese Pickled Cucumber recipe is from the Plantbased: 80 nourishing, umami-rich recipes from the kitchen of a passionate chef cookbook by Alexander Gershberg. Smith Street Books, 2023.
Photos by Amanda McGillicuddy for World of Vegan, all rights reserved.