Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Pickled Cucumber with Soy Sauce and Ginger)


Kyuri no kyu chan (きゅうりのキューちゃん) is brand name of extremely popular Japanese cucumber pickles. I’m always thrilled at the idea of reproducing a famous factory made product at home (I still keep on preparing my own Taberu Rayu, a Japanese thick chili oil), so when I saw the recipe on Hiroyuki’s blog on Japanese cooking, I knew I would try it soon. This first test was particularly exciting since I have never actually tasted the original pickles. I have no comparison, but Hiroyuki’s home version, slightly modified and prepared with big, long Western cucumbers turned out delicious.

Unlike Western strong pickles, Japanese style pickles (tsukemono) have a low acidity level, are more or less sweet (sometimes too sweet for my taste) and, unless store-bought, they belong to short-term preserves; as such they have to be kept in the fridge. The low acidity is sometimes a nice change from stronger European pickles which cannot be served at every meal. The sweetness level of many Japanese dishes is however often too high for me, so I have slightly reduced here the sugar amount. I have also used low-salt soy sauce (Hiroyuki said they were very salty). I was very happy with the result and found these pickles addictive. They were so delicate and versatile, I had them with every single meal (breakfast too). Moreover, I was astounded by the incredible taste of the pickled ginger strips. They were supposed to be only a part of cucumbers’ seasoning, but I enjoyed fishing them out and eating separately. My next batch will be bigger and I will certainly add more ginger. Thank you, Hiroyuki, for this excellent recipe!

If you find yourself with a big batch of cucumbers, I strongly recommend trying the incredibly easy and particularly flavoursome Cucumber Kimchi:

or the Moomins’ Cucumber Salad I posted last year and have been putting into jars this weekend:


Moomins' Pickled Cucumber Salad
Moomins’ Pickled Cucumber Salad

Preparation: 15 minutes + 12 hours


2 Japanese cucumbers or 1 big long Western cucumber

1 tablespoon fresh ginger slivers

1 tablespoon sugar

100 ml (about 3,4 oz) low-salt soy sauce

50 ml (about 1,7 oz) rice vinegar

toasted sesame seeds

Cut the cucumbers into 1 cm (about 1/2 in) slices and if they are big, cut the slices in two.

Put the sugar, the soy sauce and the vinegar in a pan. Bring to the boil.

Add the cucumbers and the ginger strips. Let them simmer for 2 minutes.

Put aside and once cooled, refrigerate them overnight.

Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.


40 Replies to “Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Pickled Cucumber with Soy Sauce and Ginger)”

  1. Another beautifully presented plate, Sissi.

    I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of pickles. Other than pickled ginger, the flavours and textures are just not appealing to me but I’m sure that aficionados will gobble this up. 🙂

  2. Ohhhh Sissi, another way to use up refreshing cucumbers! I was very shocked the first time we tasted American pickled cucumbers, the taste was so salty and overwhelming, I took a bite and can not eat anymore! I have not had Kyuri no kyu chan brand, though growing up we would eat our porridge with another type of store bought picked vegetable stems, and they are on the sweet side also. In fact when I made egg salad now a days, I would put some of those picked stems in for the extra crunch and sweetness. Yum!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. European vinegared pickles are sometimes very sweet but sometimes very very acid (French tiny cucumbers are really almost hot! the vinegar content is really high). However, since I’m used to these I like them a lot too. The other kind, fermented in salted brine, is acid, but no so harsh and not very salty, so I wonder which kind you have tasted. Maybe some American industrially produced pickles are over-salted? I think I love all the pickles in the world: European fermented or strongly vinegared, Japanese delicately vinegared, Korean kimchi, Indian hot pickles… I am a big pickle fan!

  3. Thank you for trying my recipe and posting about it in your blog!

    When it was first released in 1962, Kyuri no Kyuchan contained as much as 10% salt, but now it contains 4%. That brings back memories: When I was a kid, almost everything was salty. Miso was salty, umeboshi was salty (contained 20% salt), salted fish was salty, etc., etc. Since the advent of refrigerators, the sodium content in many foods has been lowered. That being said, my mother still makes very salty miso soup although I keep telling her that her miso soup is salty. Old habits die hard.

    1. Hiroyuki, thank you once more for this easy and delicious recipe and for the history lesson. It sounds like a very old brand! Your salt story reminds me of what I observe among my parents’ generation: everyone cooks much saltier food than me (my friends have similar experience). I think apart from what you say dozens of years ago populations were not aware of the health risks that big amounts of salt have and then simply got used to very salty food. For most people it’s very difficult to start adding less salt.

  4. The idea of a less acidic pickle sounds excellent. And I love the idea of cucumbers + soy! I knew I’d find something yummy if I stopped by 🙂

  5. I have a pickled cucumber recipe, but I think I would like yours better. Love the use of ginger and soy sauce. So how long did they last before you ate them all? A day or two? 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, MJ. Actually they disappeared in two days (and I was the only one who ate them).

  6. Must admit to never having made this and am just wondering whether I have eaten such: but it sounds so easy to make and all the ingredients separately are such good friends, I cannot wait to try!

    1. Thank you so much, Eha. They were really easy, so I encourage you to try making them one day. (Of course if you like soy sauce and ginger).

  7. What an interesting method, of pickling your cucumbers! Such an Asian delight! I thought the Eastern European way was the best, but checking your method, and photos…I will have to really try these yummy pickled cucumbers!

    1. Thank you so much, Elisabeth. They are completely different from European pickles and since I cook a lot of Asian dishes, they are always a perfect salad, snack or side-dish. (European pickles are sometimes too harsh for Asian cuisine).

  8. You know, Sissi, I don’t know if I’ve told you before, I’m using you as a reference to all things japanese …. maybe sichuan on the way. Another interesting condiment. The cucumber kimchi reminds me of something similar by the Chinese (not Malaysian Chinese) but China Chinese, as a friend’s daughter inlaw is from there and she’d made us this mind blowing, ear wax clearing cucumber/chillies concoction. Very addictive yet painful! 🙂

    1. Ping, you really spoil me with your compliments! Of course I will never pretend to be a reference in any cuisine… I jump from one ethnic cuisine to the other and end up not specialising in anything… I would love to taste one day the “ear wax clearing concoction” (I love your expression! not only it’s hilarious but most of all true: the ultimate hot chili experience makes my ears hurt!).

  9. I enjoy all of your yummy pickled dishes Sissi – this one is inspiring Autumn in me with it’s lovely brown and green tones… I just happen to have some extra ginger for a curry that I’m preparing and cucumber is a staple in our home… I think I can pull this off! Love the toasted sesame seeds and I bet you really pick up their flavour in this dish. Great idea!

    1. Thank you Kelly for the kind words. I’m happy you like this simple pickles idea. If you like all the ingredients, their combination tastes great.

    1. Thank you, Eva. I also make dill pickles (both fermented in salt brine and vinegared), but they are unfortunately not a good company for Asian dishes. These are perfect.

  10. きゅうりのQちゃん! What a nostalgic name!!! Gosh I haven’t had it for ages. We have it here (imported) but no one in my family doesn’t eat most of Japanese pickles (my son loves pickles with burgers) so I’m stuck with the same kind all the time. I should give this recipe a try!

    1. Hi, Nami. You should give it a try. It was so easy! Although I have no idea how similar it would be to the original, factory produced pickles.

  11. Sissi, this must have been hard to photograph. But you made it look very beautiful. But I see we are both pickling, yours is exotic, and mine is mundane. I cannot help it. Jim and I are so ordinary.

    Someone gave me live clams. They are dying a slow death in my fridge. I couldn’t bring myself to cooking the creatures alive. Its not because I don’t like to eat fishy things. My husband would have tried them if I cooked them. I must have some very ordinary friends too because nobody would take them off my hands. I hope the clammies are slowly going to sleep and are not suffering too much. I haven’t had the heart to put them in the trash. It’s so hot outside. They would fry in the bin. So for now they are in the bottom of my fridge loosing consciousness. Maybe they would pass on faster if I froze them?

    1. THank you so much, Zsuzsa. Khaki coloured pickles are not very photogenic indeed 😉 (In general pickles look best before they start the fermentation/pickling process and not afterwards). Most of what I pickle is also European of course because I have no space in my fridge to keep constantly short-term pickles. My pantry is bigger and it’s so convenient to have home-made vinegared pickles all year round…
      Your clam story made me laugh (sorry!). I remember as a child I used to catch crayfish and then boil them myself. I also used to fish, kill the fish with my own hands etc.. I think I am completely conscious that I eat dead animals and if I ever feel sorry it’s for the pigs, cows or chickens who are tortured in industrial breeding system, crammed that they cannot even move, suffering from different disease (I have been buying only organic or free-range for several years now and never look at the price; I buy more whole chickens which are less expensive for example). This is much more important that clams, crayfish, lobsters which apparently don’t feel the pain and even if they feel anything, it’s quick. There are many vegetarians who eat fish and seafood from time to time. Think about how feel pigs or other animals in the slaughterhouse… You will think different about the living clams 😉

        1. Zsuzsa, I didn’t mean you don’t feel sorry. What I meant was I think we should all kill some animals in our lives. At least fish for example. It would make us more conscious of what we are: carnivorous animals… or maybe vegetarian animals? You know I have a friend who loves fish (fillets) but is put off when presented with a whole grilled fish on her plate. In theory I should understand it but it’s so illogical…
          Of course the fact that you don’t like seafood and fish makes your attitude more understandable (I love fish and would happily kill every fish I eat; it takes a second and I even did it last year with a living eel I bought). Killing a fish is much easier than scaling, gutting, cutting, filleting etc..

          1. Sissi I cannot kill. I would have to be starving to kill something. The only thing I have no remorse to squash is a mosquito. I trap the spider and let it go outside. Yes, you are correct – there is no difference between killing to eat and to eat what has been killed for me. But I still cannot do it. I can do one but not the other.

            1. Zsuzsa, you remind me of a friend who refused to kill spiders or mosquitos… I am extremely cruel to every insect I see in my house!

  12. Hi Sissi!

    oh wow I like the idea of your japanese pickle. Like Nami, I have a problem in my house. I keep on making, giving and receiving pickles and we are only two, so we end up with 5 pickle jars at a time in our fridge. lol

    However yours looks like will be next jar in my fridge.

  13. Dear Sissi,

    I love cucumber kimchi and always make it at home especially in summer. But it is also one dish I will order like 6 times whenever we go to a Korean BBQ restaurant because one can order unlimited amount of banchan. 🙂

    1. You are lucky! Here we have to pay for every single bowl… (at least in two Korean restaurants I went to) and moreover kimchi is not even hot 🙁 Hence my home-made experiments!

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