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Quick Summer Pickles - Asazuke

Posted on August 27, 2009 at 2:31 AM


  Cucumber, turnip and carrots take a plunge into the ice water

It's been just too hot and dry in Southern California. I miss the rain and pray for clouds everyday.  Even my vegetables in the garden could use a little cooler weather.  In the late afternoons, the cucumbers look a bit limp from the heat.  So today, I decided to give them an ice break.  They went for a plunge in a bowl of ice water.  I'd like to take a plunge myself.

I made quick pickles, Asazuke, (it is the Japanese word for lightly pickled) with basically what I found in the fridge and garden - one carrot, 3 turnips and 2 Japanese cucumbers. You can also use cabbage, radishes, celery and peppers too.  I thought these pickles will last over two or three days.  But we ate most of  it  in one evening. They were good.  I have to make some more.

You can use the leaves of the turnips, too.

There is no need to peel the turnips.

Cut the turnip and cucumbers thin but not too thin.  

The carrots are cut in match sticks.

Sprinkle some chopped shiso as a garnish for extra flavor.

Quick Cucumber, Carrots and Turnip Pickles

3 turnips

2 Japanese cucumbers

1 medium size carrot

2 shiso leaves, sliced thinly (optional)

2 tsp salt



1 tsp salt

2 inch piece konbu seaweed, sliced, 1/4-inch wide

1 cup water (250 cc)

Don't peel the turnips.  Slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick pieces.

Peel the cucumbers and slice them crosswise, 1/4-inch thick pieces.

Peel the carrot and make 2-inch matchsticks.


Soak the sliced konbu and salt in one cup of water. Put the mixture in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Turn off heat. Cool broth and set aside.


Sprinkle measured salt over sliced cucumbers, turnips and carrots. Let stand for 5 minutes to let the salt settle.  Then gently mix (massage) the vegetables with your hand until water is extracted from the vegetables.  

Put the vegetables in a zip log back.  Make sure there are no air pockets. Press the vegetables by putting some weight on top for about 30 minutes. You can put a plate or cutting board on top and then a large can of tomatoes or something even heavier like a stone.  That's what my grandmother used.  The modern Japanese way to press vegetables is with a pickling device (see picture below). I've had mine for more than 20 years but it's as good as new.  It comes with a lid so I can put it right in the fridge.  You can find pickling devices at a Japanese market.  They are great to have if you plan on making pickles, which I do regularly.   

Japanese pickling device.  It has a handle so you can also use

it  to build some triceps if you like.  

Prepare a bowl of water with ice and set aside.  

In a saucepan, boil 3 cups of  water. We will dump the hot water on the vegetables first, and then give them the ice bath.  So go ahead and take the vegetables out of the zip lock bag or pickling container and put them in a strainer.  Pour the hot water over the vegetables. Let stand for 5 to 10 seconds. This step will make the vegetables slightly limp. Then transfer the vegetables into the ice water with ice cubes and cool the vegetables quickly. This is to get them crispy and cold. Keep the vegetables in the ice bath for 10 seconds.  Drain. Return them to the pickling device or zip log back along with the brine and press for additional 30 minutes or longer.  Keep refreigerated.

To serve, lightly squeeze the water out of the pickles and sprinkle some chopped shiso leaves.  

Categories: Pickles and Preserves, Vegetable and Seaweed Dishes , Vegetarian, Vegetarian

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