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Showing posts from July, 2021

Nukadoko Progress Report: Adding the Infusion

Nukazuke fresh from the newly infused pickle pot. From the very first time I mentioned an interest in starting my own nukadoko, Elizabeth Andoh offered to send some of her nuka paste for what she called an 'infusion.' She explained that the older, mature nuka paste gets added to the newer pot to lend a boost of energy, flavor, stability, and character or personality. Elizabeth also explained that while her infusion will sort of 'take over' the flavor of my pot the two will eventually meld. An infusion isn't necessary by any means, as my pot would have continued to develop on its own, but it is nice as my paste gains a sense of maturity it would otherwise take an extended period of time to develop. It's also a way for experienced picklers to lend a hand to those starting out.  As Elizabeth mentions in Kansha , pickle pots were once a common feature of Japanese kitchens, and it is not unusual to learn that a pot and its paste have existed for generations, most oft

Nukadoko Progress Report: First Pickles and Infusion Prep

First nukazuke on the plate! The Pickle Pot has offered up its first pickles! I'm going to say right now that this is somewhat addictive. I haven't been able to stop making and experimenting with the nukadoko. I believe has become something of an obsession. Everything I look at these days is assessed for its pickle potential.  As Elizabeth was packing up the infusion of paste from her pot for mine, I was preparing to do up the first pickle. I opted for cucumbers as they are in season at the moment and my landlord neighbor had just dropped some off on our doorstep. It was a bit too long to lie flat in my pot, so I cut it in half, and as recommended in Kansha , I salt-rubbed the washed and smoothed halves and left to sweat for a bit while I removed the veg scraps. I also took this opportunity to add some kombu, togarashi (Japanese hot pepper), and a whole clove of peeled garlic followed by the requisite flipping, digging, and flopping to mix everything together. I rinsed the exce

Nukadoko Progress Report: First checks

  Dry nuka was not what I had in mind. My first check on my nukadoko revealed...not very much. There was a warm nutty smell with a bit of spice; however, the vegetables hadn't broken down very much, and the texture didn't seem quite right. It wasn't the "coarse, wet sand" described in Kansha . A consult with Elizabeth, a.k.a. my Pickle Pot Advisor, confirmed that more beer was needed and to rebury the vegetable scraps to see what would happen. Other recommendations she had: add more nuka to increase volume; letting the veg "sweat" after being salt-rubbed before immersion in the pot. This draws out moisture locked in the vegetables, which in turn enriches and moistens the pot, and it makes room for the microbe-rich liquid that will be drawn into the vegetables. She also recommended keeping the liquid drawn out and add it, too, to the pot with the veg.  I added more beer directly to the pot to adjust the texture and reburied the veg. A check on Day Three r

Nukadoko is Underway!

Nukadoko, diary and ingredients  My nukadoko is underway! Pictured above are the ingredients recommended by Elizabeth Andoh as well as the pot she helped choose and the diary where I'm keeping notes. (I totally recommend this as it is easy to keep a small notebook near the pot, and it doesn't matter if I get a few bits of nukadoko paste on the paper.) There are a couple of things Elizabeth recommended in a Zoom chat we had, which I'll include here, but the recipe in Kansha is super comprehensive and clear. I could definitely do this with only that book if I didn't have Elizabeth an email away. One ingredient not listed in the Kansha recipe is the nukamisokarashi in the small green bag in the photo. The mixture contains a variety of items such as eggshells, karashi (mustard), dried citrus peel, togarashi (capsicum), and sanshou (Japanese pepper of the Sichuan pepper clan). Together, these add flavor, help stabilize the nuka paste, and repel insects. The kombu, ginger,

Farm to Door: Organic Vegetable Delivery in Japan

Pre-pandemic photo of Ome Farm at the UNU Market! The pandemic has had a wide variety of effects, and one of these is that people have taken a greater interest in their food. Some of that interest sprang out of supply chain breakdowns and some of it sprang from the fact that going to the grocery store or farmers market felt risky. Farmers found themselves receiving an increased number of requests for their produce and CSA memberships. A number of folks expressed a desire to keep up these new connections even after the pandemic abated. Good stuff, if you ask me. Here in Japan, farmer's markets have been canceled since April 2020 or so, and I'm avoiding travel as much as possible until I'm fully vaccinated. So, I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of these farms in one place so people could peruse as they wished and find what they wanted.   Following is an alphabetical list of farms and farmers, their products, primary language, and links to their websites whe

Nukadoko Adventures Begin!

  The nukadoko Elizabeth Andoh helped me choose. Introducing my nukadoko or pickle pot! I've decided to take the plunge and start my own nukadoko or rice bran pickle pot at long last. Vegetables ferment in a bed of nuka or rice bran, a leftover of the rice polishing process that brims with nutrition and flavor. The resulting pickles, known as nukazuke , are tart and flavorful as well as packed with B1 and E. I'm using Elizabeth Andoh's detailed recipe and instructions in Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions  to get me going, which has also resulted in the two of us making my nukadoko adventure into a project. I'll be documenting the process and sharing the wise words of my self-described Pickle Pot Advisor, Elizabeth Andoh , as we go along!