These pickles are traditionally a homemade delicacy, pungent in aroma yet mellow in flavor. Highly nutritious, they harbor a wealth of minerals and vitamins found in rice bran. They are particularly good when served as a side dish to grilled or fried foods. Unlike some pickled products, vegetables prepared in this manner keep for only a short period of time—usually less than a week. Nuka-zuké pickles are not at all difficult to make. Once you’ve got a good pickling medium going, it is simple to maintain and it will provide you with months, even years, of delicious crisp pickled vegetables.
You will need a wide-mouthed glazed ceramic pot or glass jar that has a tight-fitting lid. Plastic or metal containers are unacceptable since unpleasant chemical reactions occur. Wooden bowls should be avoided, since they absorb too much moisture from the pickling paste. Your pickling pot should have at least a
Purchase a package of iri nuka (roasted rice bran) or dry roast plain nuka (rice bran) yourself. Either method should yield
It will take several days before your pickling paste begins to ripen. This process can be assisted by adding already matured nuka paste from a friend’s pot. If you have some vegetable scraps (peels from unwaxed cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, wilted cabbage leaves) these can also be put in the basic paste. These scraps should be removed and discarded the following day. A ripe pickling paste has a rather heady aroma and is the consistency of damp sand. If you are unsure as to the ripeness of your paste, try pickling a piece of un waxed cucumber or zucchini for 8 hours. Rinse the sample piece under cold water and pat dry. The vegetable should still be bright green but limp, pleasantly salty, slightly tangy, and crunchy though no longer as crisp as when raw. There should be a mellow, almost earthy aftertaste that lingers for several moments.
If your pickling paste is in constant use, you may wish to replenish it by adding
If a whitish mold should appear on the surface of your pickling paste there is no cause for alarm. Merely scrape it off with a wooden spoon. This mold is harmless and, if removed promptly, will not alter the flavor or quality of your pickles.
Your pickling medium should be kept at room temperature, tightly covered. It should be aerated at least 3 times a week, by mixing and folding bottom over top. Your bare hand is the best implement, though you can use a wooden spoon. If properly cared for, your pickling paste will last for several years.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.