Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kyuri no Kyu-chan (きゅうりのキューちゃん) - Japanese Soy-Ginger Quick Pickles

I've written about tsukemono before. Basically, tsukemono is a catch-all term for Japanese pickles. Unlike here in the US, where high heat and/or pressure is used for food preservation, tsukemono pickles are quick, and often don't require any cooking at all (unless you count boiling the brine). Think of them as 'refrigerator pickles'.

In Japan, there is a popular soy sauce flavored quick pickle, known as Kyuri no Kyu-chan (きゅうりのキューちゃん). Kyuri no Kyu-chan pickles are just Japanese cucumbers, cold-pickled in a soy sauce mixture with fresh ginger. The taste is crisp, clean, with just the right amount of saltiness and ginger.

Mom and I have actually been making these things on our own for YEARS. The key is to use Japanese cucumbers; these cucumbers are smaller than our usual cukes here in the US. They're long but skinny, usually completely seedless, and sweet. TMI, but I've noticed that Japanese cucumbers ("kyuri", pronounced "Q-ree", with the 'r' sounding almost like a 'd') don't give me the burps like the US cucumbers do. 


Luckily, my parents grow Japanese cucumbers each year, and always end up with more than enough to spare. So, I usually end up carrying home a bag of these things every time I visit them. If you want to grow your own, Bonnie now offers Japanese cucumber plants, or you can order the seeds from placed like Evergreen or Kitazawa.

Finding Japanese cucumbers isn't always easy - if you can find small, "pickling" cucumbers, those will work pretty well. so will those big, plastic wrapped English cukes. Just avoid the giant American ones that are full of seeds and water.

Kyuri no Kyu-chan (きゅうりのキューちゃん) - Japanese Soy-Ginger Quick Pickles

Ingredients:
4 whole Japanese cucumbers
1/2 cup soy sauce (tamari for vegan)
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2" knob fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded

Rinse cucumbers and slice thinly (1/8" - 1/4") into a bowl of cold water. Chill for 6-8 hours. This helps keep the cucumbers nice and crisp, but also gets rid of any burpy bitterness.





Drain the cucumbers and squeeze out any excess water.



Combine the soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool. Add the cucumbers and shredded ginger; chill until cold. 





 







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