Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ume Grill's Tsukemono (Japanese Pickles)

The Sun Automotive lot on the corner of 19th and Fairmount has become a real neighborhood food hub. Not only does it house the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market each Sunday (running through October), but every evening, the Ume Grill cart sets up shop to offer delicious terriyake beef skewers and accompanying sides of wasabi spiked cole slaw, crunchy pickles and rice. 

A complete meal includes a dessert of handmade mochi, and even a tea bag for a pot of hot or iced tea.

Ume Grill owners, Helen Nahoopii and Rayton Takata, are committed to using the freshest, high quality ingredients in their food. I asked Helen to contribute a recipe for produce from the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, and she shared this method for preparing cucumber or zucchini pickles with seaweed.

Helen writes: "In Japan, tsukemono or pickles are used as hashi-yasume, literally “chopstick resters”, side dishes that have a totally different texture and flavor. So for instance if you had some grilled meat with a sweet-savory sauce as the main course, you might have some simple, crunchy pickled cucumber slices to go with it. Here is a simple, yet nice side-dish to accompany your next grilled dish!"

Helen was so thoughtful that she even provided me with the seaweed for this recipe, which she purchased at King's Asian Market on West 11th. I tried the recipe with some slender cucumbers from Sweetwater Farm and delicate zucchini from SLO Farm. Both were delicious with a sweetly spicy, mildly briny crunch. 

Tsukemono (Japanese Day Pickle) 
4 servings

2 small thin English cucumbers or small Japanese cucumbers when available, or 4 baby zucchini
1/2 inch kombu (seaweed) cut into thin shreds with kitchen shears
7 T water
3 T rice vinegar
1 T cane or granulated sugar
1/2 tsp crushed chili peppers (adjust according to taste)

Rinse and then peel cucumbers, or simply rinse the zucchini, and cut into quarter lengthwise and then dice into 1/4 inch pieces. Place in bowl and in a measuring cup mix together other ingredients. Pour over diced cucumbers or zucchini. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for up to three hours before serving.

Provided by Ume Grill Owners
Helen Nahoopii and Rayton Takata

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