Japantown is only 3 blocks out of my way from my bike commute to work, but I’ve only recently started going to the Japanese food market on a regular basis. They have pretty great vegetables and their meat is organic/antibiotic free. If you get there an hour before they close, they sell their leftover bento meals for 25% off so you can get a decent Japanese meal with roasted fish, stewed vegetables, brown rice, pickles, and whatnot for 4 bucks. A damn good deal if you ask me.
Anyway. I was there about 2 weeks ago and they were selling a nukazuke set. I’ve been meaning to try my hand at this Japanese fermentation pickling since my mom started doing it down in LA a little while ago. So I went ahead and bought it. The set contained a bag of ground, roasted rice bran, strips of konbu (kelp), a few dried red chili peppers, and a packet of salt.
First, you dissolve the salt in hot water, which you then let cool.
Then you mix the other ingredients in a bowl and slowly pour the salt water into the dry mixture until it becomes this soupy mud-like gunk. You pour that into a ceramic container or glass tupperware, which is what I did.
Before you can actually start pickling vegetables to eat, you have do several rounds of “sutezuke” which literally means “trash pickles.” You get pieces of vegetables you don’t wanna eat and mix it into the nukamiso so you extract some of the salt and feed the bacteria so they get stronger and happier. (You can use vegetables you’d want to eat otherwise, but it’d just be a waste to turn them into trash pickles.)
Sooo, I found a bunch of asparagus in my fridge so I snapped off the bottoms and stuck em in the nukamiso. Tomorrow I’m gonna get some apples and peel them to feed the lil guys. According to some blogs that apparently helps to make the pickles a bit sweeter later on. I’d think it also speeds up the fermentation process better than something like asparagus because of the higher sugar content in the apple.
Then you have to mix it with your hands every day to aerate it. If you want it to ferment the vegetables faster, you can leave it out in a cool dry place. But if you want it to slow down, you just stick in the fridge.
It sorta feels like I’m getting a pet that I need to feed and give oxygen to…and get pickles in exchange. Excited to see how it turns out.