Basic Asazuke, Lightly Pickled Tsukemono, Japanese Pickles


I had quite a few dishes that I didn’t want to eat, even though I loved making them, and pickles were one of them. I made pickles with vinegar a few times, but they didn’t taste very good, so I gave up on them. Of course, I didn’t think anything of cooking science at the time, so I just didn’t know how to make them taste good.

I came to Finland, I was very impressed by the taste of cucumbers. The cucumbers in Finland are about twice as thick as the ones in Japan, and the longest ones can be as long as 30 cm. From the looks of them, I imagined they would taste watery, but they tasted so much better than the ones in Japan. By the way, Finnish people eat their bread with lots of butter and cucumbers on top. I haven’t reached that level yet.

And I realized that the reason why pickles are not tasty is because they have too much salt or not enough umami, in other words, because of the way they are cooked, and not because they are bad. It was obvious, though.

So here is my basic recipe for Japanese pickles, asazuke, which I made after repeated experiments. If you follow this recipe, you should be able to make Japanese pickles out of any vegetable. Of course, I also have individual recipes for each vegetable.
Articles of "tsukemono".

Basic Asazuke, Lightly Pickled Tsukemono, Japanese Pickles

Japanese food is healthy, with less oil and more vegetables, but the biggest problem is the salt. This is how to make basic asazuke, Japanese pickles using less salt but tasty.
Prep Time0 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Rest After Cook20 mins
Servings100 g vegetable
  • vegetables (any amount, *1) 100 g
  • salt ( 2% of the vegetables weight, *2, *3, *4) 2 g
  • ajinomoto (*5) 1 pinch
  • seasoning of your choice (*6)
  • Cut the vegetables into desired shapes.
  • Put the vegetables in a plastic bag or container and weigh the vegetables*1.
  • Measure and add 2%(*2, *3, *4) of the weight of the vegetables.
  • Add ajinomoto(*5).
  • Add any other seasonings you like(*6).
  • You can check asazuke recipe for each vegetables from here.
    Articles of "tsukemono".
Always weigh the vegetables with an electronic scale. Use this number to determine the amount of salt.
I cooked asazuke with 1%, 2%, and 4% salt, and compared the results. 4% was too salty, and I had to soak it in water to remove the salt before eating it. 1% seemed a little thin, but if you want to add flavor with sesame oil or ginger, I think it can be enough. The best ratio for a simple recipe is 2%.
If you use a teaspoon, one teaspoon of salt is 5 grams, so half a teaspoon is 2.5 grams. It is easier to adjust the vegetables than it is to adjust the salt, so I always use 125 grams or more vegetables, that can be added half a teaspoon of salt,.
For the half teaspoon, I measure out exactly one teaspoon by levveling, and then removing only half of it, which is difficult to do with dry salt. There are many ways to do this, either using moist salt or buying a 1/2 teaspoon.
When using an electronic scale, after weighing the vegetables, do not set the display to zero, but keep the weight of the vegetables on the display and add salt. 
With the quality of kitchen scales, there are quite a few cases where it is not possible to accurately measure the change from 0g to 1g after setting the display to 0. In fact, when I weighed 1g of salt on my kitchen scale, it was obviously too much, so I measured it on a more precise electronic scale and was surprised to find it was over 3g. However, the increase from 1g to 2g and from 2g to 3g was accurate.
Ajinomoto is essential for salt reduction. Adding the umami taste of ajinomoto makes the salt taste stronger, leading to salt reduction. Up to 300g of vegetables can be prepared with just a pinch. If you are preparing more than 300g of vegetables, increase the amount just a little.
For more information about Ajinomoto and how umami works, please see this article.
Ajinomoto is UMAMI Seasoning: Tips & 4 Useful Recipes
Ajinomoto, MSG is Safe. Ajinomoto is amino acid, monosodium glutamate and is umami seasoning, made from sugar cane, is gluten-free and vegan.

What is UMAMI? Umami is the 5th Taste!
Umami is the fifth taste. Many Umami seasonings exist, but pure umami seasonings are limited. For example, Ajinomoto, MSG is umami seasoning.
We recommend ginger, sesame oil, vinegar, and laogamma.
Be careful when adding soy sauce.
The salt density of common soy sauce is about 15%. Since the density of soy sauce is about 1.2 g/mL, the amount of salt per tablespoon = 15 mL is
15(mL) x 1.2(g/mL) x 0.15 = 2.7(g)
2.7g salt in one teaspoon of soy sauce.
If you are adding soy sauce, reduce the amount of salt beforehand, considering that 1/3 tablespoon is equivalent to about 1g of salt, or more simply, 0.15g of salt per gram of soy sauce.
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