Sunday, July 11, 2021

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, etc., listed in Kansha will get added later, once my nukadoko is in full operation.

For now, the rainy season makes this an interesting time with its high humidity and increasing temperatures. The bacteria are highly energetic in these conditions, so the nukadoko must be carefully monitored; hence the diary to see what happens and how the nukadoko changes over time. Elizabeth recommended this diary, which I will base my entries on to track what I pickle, the time of pickling, temperature, weather, humidity, etc. All of these things will ultimately help me better understand my nukadoko and its workings. The observations and actions will also, eventually, become second nature of the care, feeding, and enjoyment of the nukadoko.

I should also add that I mixed everything using my bare, ungloved, washed-and-dried with a clean kitchen towel hands, as this is part of what will help give the nuka some of the bacteria it needs to get going. This literal hands-on technique will also be part of what gives my nukadoko its somewhat distinct flavor. Different hands, different houses, etc., result in slightly different flavors and profiles. (Fascinating, right?) Also, this helps me 'know' my nukadoko. We are in the early stages of our relationship, so for me this is part of really understanding the texture and any changes that will occur as we go along.

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