As I mentioned in a previous post about this first meal, Masae also served an assortment of homemade pickles. Okra, eggplant, and cucumber pickles she'd made the night before graced the table, and were perfect for a summer's evening meal. Also known as tsukemono, these pickles can range from simple overnight varieties to those left in jars for long periods of time. Pickles offer a chance to cleanse the pallette between types of sushi or dishes in a meal.
We ate in what I call "family style" - fishing out this or that directly from the serving bowl - and bringing it back to the rice bowl or small accompanying plate. If the pickle, tofu or tomato made it to my rice bowl (versus flopping onto the table or another serving bowl) it added a nice bit of flavor or worked well in combination withh something else I snagged earlier.
Masae's Pickled Eggplant
1. Slice washed egglant in half and cut in a cross-hatch pattern on the skin side. (If you closely examine the picture at left you can see the cross-hatch pattern in the eggplant slices.)
2. Fry the eggplant briefly to soften it some and to let it absorb a bit of the oil.
3. Plop the eggplant bits in a container of dashi and mentsuyu and marinade them overnight in the refrigerator.
4. Serve in a bowl with a bit of the marinade, and prepare to battle your dining companions for the last piece.
Masae's Pickled Okra
1. Boil the okra briefly, maybe two or three minutes or as long as you would for blanching.
2. Plung the okra in a bow of dashi and mentsuyu, and marinade overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Serve with a bit of the marinade, and again prepare tactics to get the last one to your plate and keep it there.