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Tsukemono (漬物?, literally "pickled things") are Japanese preserved vegetables (usually pickled in salt, brine or a bed of rice bran (nuka)). They are served with rice as okazu (side dish), with drinks as an otsumami (snack), as an accompaniment to or garnish for meals, and as a course in the kaiseki portion of a Japanese tea ceremony.
Tsukemono are also referred as konomono (香の物?), oshinko (御新香?) or okoko (御香々?), all carrying the meaning of "fragrant dish" in Japanese. kou (香?) which is used in these names was a generic term for pickled food and indicates miso due to the strong smell from the pickling process, but does not indicate the use of miso in the pickling process. Particularly, oshinko (shinko) refers to lightly pickled tsukemono which did not yet cause a color change in the used vegetable. However, due to takuan becoming a widely available type of tsukemono, these names are frequently used interchangeably with takuan. gakko (がっこ?), a type of tsukemono made locally in Akita was originally gakou (雅香?) or miyabi or refined flagrant.
Techniques of tsukemono
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Tsukemono can be readily bought in a supermarket, but despite this many Japanese still make their own. All that is needed to make pickles is a container, salt, and something to apply pressure on top of the pickles.
A tsukemonoki (漬物器?), literally vessel for pickled things, is a Japanese pickle press. The pressure is generated by heavy stones called tsukemonoishi (漬物石?) with a weight of one to two kilograms, sometimes more. This type of pickle press is still in use, and can be made from a variety of materials, such as plastic, wood, glass or ceramic. Before tsukemonoishi came into use, the pressure was applied by driving a wedge between a handle of the container and its lid.
The weights are either stone or metal, with a handle on top and often covered with a layer of food-neutral plastic. Another modern type of pickle press is usually made from plastic, and the necessary pressure is generated by turning a screw and clamping down onto the pickles.
Asazuke is a pickling method characterized by its short preparation time.
|Amasuzuke||甘酢漬け||sugar and vinegar|
|Kasuzuke||粕漬け||sake kasu (sake lees)|
List of tsukemono
Rakkyōzuke (a type of onion) is often served with Japanese curry. Rakkyōzuke has a very mild and "fresh" taste. It is pickled and used to balance the stronger flavors of some other component in a meal.
Nozawana is a pickled leaf vegetable typical of Nagano Prefecture.
Tariff on tsukemono
According to EU and USA trade code definitions, tsukemono are classified as 'preserved vegetables' rather than 'pickles' because they are not primarily preserved in acetic acid or distilled vinegar. They have a different tax rate than western pickles.
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