Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Fukujinzuke (red pickles for curry) 福神漬け

Fukujinzuke (red pickles for curry) 福神漬け
Picture Courtesy of Avelyn Grene (Kristen Lynn)
Japanese cuisine is composed of rice (or another starch), soup and at least two side dishes.  Rice, which is a staple commodity, is the central component.  The accompanying dishes are called Okazu, and are designed to supplement the rice. The main okazu is almost always protein based--grilled fish, meat, or eggs. The secondary okazu can be either a vegetable dish or another protein dish. Additionally, there are accompaniments called "hashi yasume".  A special kind of okazu that contrasts flavor, temperature and texture of the main dish and most often includes small salads or pickles.

Pickles are a very important part of Japanese cuisine.  Just as rice is considered a "core" part of a meal, so too are pickles.  They are used as palate cleansers, condiments, garnishes or relishes. They emerged as a way of preserving food before refrigeration. The methods of pickling range from simply salt and vinegar, to fermentation and culturing molds. 

The simplest pickling process is salt pickling, and it is known as Shiozuke.  Thinly sliced vegetables are layered with salt and then weighed down, resulting in vegetables that are sweet, crisp and light in texture.  Simply rinse your vegetables before using.   Diners of the feast enjoyed this kind of pickle in the form of umeboshi. 

Suzuke pickles have been brined in rice vinegar, which gives them a tangy and sweet flavor with a crunchy texture.  The gari (pickled ginger) and namasu (pickled daikon and carrots) served at feast are examples of this kind of pickle. 

Shoyuzuke is soy-based pickling. Soy sauce is combined with vinegar and sugar resulting in pickles that are both sweet and salty.  The fukujinzuke served at feast is an example of this kind of pickling method. Fukujinzuke is made with seven different items and is associated with the seven gods of fortune (Shichi Fukujin), also known as the seven lucky gods, or the seven gods of happiness. They are most often served with curryies and chopped like a chutney. I left the pieces larger because I wanted individuals to know what they were eating. 

Miso-based pickling is called Misozuke. Miso paste is flavored with seasonings such as mirin, garlic or ginger and then the vegetables, meat, tofu or eggs are buried within it.  They can cure from a few hours to several weeks.The Mikawa Ae (miso cured cucumbers) that was served at feast is an example of this kind of pickling. 

Nukazuke is an advanced pickle. It begins with a mixture of rice bran which has been roasted. The rice bran is then mixed with salt, kombu seaweed and water into a mash. It relies on lactobacillus bacteria to cure the pickles.  The mash must be stirred  daily in order to be properly maintained.  A properly maintained mash can be kept indefinately. This is the method that is used to create Takuan, yellow pickled daikon radish. 

The last method of Japanese pickling is Kasuzuke which uses sake lees (the mash left over from filtering sake) mixed with salt, sugar and mirin.  The resulting pickles are slightly alcoholic. 

For more information on Iemetsu's banquet see the following post: Resources and Inspiration for Crown Tourney Feast

For more information on the seven lucky gods see here: Seven Lucky Gods 

Fukujinzuke (福神漬)

5 c. chopped turnip
4 c. chopped cucumbers
1 c. chopped carrots
1/2 Asian pear, julienned
Lotus root (10-cm piece), peeled
1 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup salt
1-1/2 c. soy sauce
2 c. sugar
3 tbsp white vinegar

Note: Other vegetables you can use include: eggplant, mushrooms, daikon, radish and purple shiso

Peel, core and slice vegetables into like-sized pieces.  Alternatively, if you want to make it more of a chutney, chop vegetables finely.  Sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for a minimum of ten minutes before rinsing and then drying off vegetables. 

Mix soy, sugar and vinegar together in a pot to create to the brine. Bring the brine to a boil and boil for 1-2 minutes.  Place vegetables into a container (I used a mason jar) and pour the brine over  them.

Here is where I deviated from the classical Japanese technique.  If you are following the classical technique you would leave the vegetables overnight in the brine, then drain the brine into a saucepan, boil it for 1-2 minutes and then pour the hot brine back over the drained vegetables over the next two days.

I did not do this. Instead, I refrigerated the vegetables and brine and flipped the jars over once a day for the next two days.

Citations:

Japanese Pickles (Tsukemono) (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2349.html.

Tsukemono: The Complete Guide to Japanese Pickles. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://gurunavi.com/en/japanfoodie/2015/08/tsukemono.html?__ngt__=TT0ffbd9f51007ac1e4ae773O8fwwraqAODbBY9kNz-A9S.


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