Long-term Westernised Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Cucumber Pickled with Soy Sauce and Ginger)

cucgingerpI grew up accustomed to long-term storage pickles, i.e. lasting at least a year, so my biggest regret while discovering Japanese sunomono (vinegared dishes) was their short life. Among these I particularly appreciate Kyuuri no kyuuchan きゅうりのキューちゃん (sometimes written “Kyuri no kyuchan”) for the way the cucumber becomes infused with a mixture of soy sauce and ginger flavours. (Actually, pickled myoga is my number one but it is practically impossible to get here in any form, so I try to forget about it). Due to its brine, the original product is impossible to be processed and preserved the Western way. I have decided to experiment in order to obtain similarly flavoured pickles, but with a considerably extended storage time, concentrating on ginger and soy sauce.

I will not bore you with details, but after several heavy defeats, I have finally come up with the biggest compromise I can accept between long-term storage and taste modifications. There is less soy sauce, less ginger and more vinegar, but the taste is definitely reminiscent of Kyuuri no kyuuchan. This first successful batch was made a month ago and it has kept perfectly of course out of the fridge (tasted today for lunch), so I predict a long pantry life for this one. Needless to say, I have already planned a new pickling session!

You might also like my other long- and short-term cucumber pickling recipes:

Kyuuri no Kyuuchan
Kyuuri no Kyuuchan
Pickled Dill Cucumbers
Moomins' Pickled Cucumber Salad
Moomins’ Pickled Cucumber Salad
Easy Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Kimchi)
Easy Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Kimchi)

Preparation: 1 hour + processing

Ingredients (the number of jars depends on their size and the size of cucumber slices/pieces):

1 kg/about 2 lbs long cucumbers or short pickling cucumbers

1 liter/about 4 cups white wine (or cider) vinegar (4,5%; if your vinegar is stronger, use proportionally more water)

1.1 litre (about 4 cups and 3 oz) water

400 g (1 3/4 cups) caster sugar

3 tablespoons salt

soy sauce (1 tablespoon per 300 ml/about 10 fl oz jar)

fresh ginger (2 slices per 300 ml/about 10 fl oz jar)

Cut up the cucumber into slices or half-slices, if the diameter seems too big for your jars (or for your preferences).

Cut the ginger into thick slices.

Fill empty, clean jars with cucumbers and fresh ginger (maximum two slices per 300 ml/about 10 fl oz jar) to maximum 2/3 jars’ height. Pour one tablespoon soy sauce per 300 ml/about 10 fl oz jar.

Put the vinegar, the water, the sugar and the salt in a pan and let it boil a couple of minutes, stirring well until all the sugar is dissolved. Put aside.

Fill the jars with hot (no longer boiling!) vinegar mixture, leaving 1,5 cm from the rim.

Close the jars and let them cool down.

Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to the boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the pickle and don’t forget to mark the date.

Wait at least a couple of weeks before opening the jars.

49 Replies to “Long-term Westernised Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Cucumber Pickled with Soy Sauce and Ginger)”

  1. Congratulations on your success! You must be very proud! Judging from the photo, I think your soy-flavored pickle should be called “Kyuuri no Sissi-chan” rather than “Kyuuri no Kyuuchan”! (laugh)

    1. Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. I don’t think I merit to be a part of a pickles’ name 😉 I’m glad you are not shocked at the idea. It’s not exactly kyuuri no kyuuchan, but it’s very similar and if I prepare many jars, all I need to do is open one of them at any time of the year…

      1. I agree with Hiroyuki – you’ve earned the title for your innovative pickle, so let’s call it Kyuuri no Sissi-chan – I like it 🙂

  2. You know I love pickles sissi- especially pickled cukes! can’t wait to try this one out! When we were young, everytime someone was ill we had plain rice congee with soy-sauce pickled lettuce hearts. The soy sauce and sugar made it a very yummy pickle that even we as kids loved. This reminds me of that so I’m especially excited to try this 🙂

    1. Thank you, Shuhan. I must say I’m glad I have managed to put some Asian flavours into European-style pickles because I find it very time-consuming to keep on preparing pickles I can keep only for a week. It’s such a pleasure to open my pantry and take out not only European pickles but also the ones with Asian flavours. (I have already lots of home-pickled ginger and it’s so time and money-saving!).
      Lettuce hearts sound excellent, but I suppose they must be short-term pickles. I must try making them!

  3. I am a huge lover of anything pickled! If it were acceptable, I could drink vinegar, I love it that much! This pickle looks absolutely beautiful Sissi, I love that it doesn’t have too much soy as I find it way too salty. I see that pickles are making their appearances in my green grocers…I will have to give these a try.

    1. Thank you, Eva. Well, soy sauce must be salty because even though it’s called “sauce” it’s usually a replacement for salt. Often Asian people are shocked seeing us, foreigners, bathe the food in soy sauce as if it was a dressing or a sauce in the Western meaning of the word 😉 On the other hand, I think that just like Westerners often add too much salt many Asian people probably use too much soy sauce too. In Japan, I think, it’s a big faux pas to pour soy sauce over a bowl of rice (I was told so). I use low-sodium soy sauce most of the time because we love it and have too much of it. I haven’t put a lot of soy sauce here especially because I’m worried it might not keep well, but I might have skipped the salt in the brine and added more. Maybe next year?

  4. So little soy sauce. Would it help if you did short pickle just in the soy sauce before adding the rest of the ingredients?
    Why are long term pickles more common in Western countries, and short term pickles common in the East, if that is the case?
    Anyway, today I made some short term baked goods (cake). I was planning on making long term baked goods (cookies).
    Moon cakes = short term= Eastern. Cookies = long term= American. Makes sense?

    1. Soy sauce is a product of fermentation, hence the small amount here (I’m not sure if it wouldn’t induce further fermentation afterwards…), but the cucumbers get infused with soy sauce anyway (without any risk of fermentation I think: I have seen people adding soy sauce to European pickles but in small amounts; I don’t want to risk more: this is definitely enough to give a Japanese touch 🙂
      I often wonder why and I remember being very surprised when I discovered that vinegar long-term pickles are practically unknown in some Asian countries. On the other hand salt-fermented pickles are equally ancient in both parts of the world (though in some countries people have abandoned home-making and buy ready to eat pickles, e.g. kimchi) and this type of pickling is often made in earthen jars (though nowadays it’s easier in glassware), while the vinegar-pickling is prepared (at least now) in glass jars, so I wonder if the popularity of glass jars is not the main reason because people have always needed saving food for “thinner” months all around the world. Also the “appertisation” process is a European invention which makes vinegar pickling even safer and maybe it hasn’t “travelled” to Asia? I have often wondered why…

        1. Mr. Three-Cookies, I don’t know Asian countries’ climates very well, but I know there are some regions of China or Japan which have long harsh winters, and yet they don’t pickle in vinegar for long-term but they do pickle in salt and also dry lots of food products (Sichuan salt pickled chilli, Korean kimchi etc.). I think the question shouldn’t concern long-term pickles in general, but long-term vinegar pickling only. Why they don’t pickle for long storage in vinegar too? Not only in salt?

          1. Wish I knew the answer. Asia is quite big so I am sure there are places that pickle in vinegar that we don’t know about. I know of chilies pickled in lemon juice. I might have seen vinegar pickles in SE Asia (mainly chilli)

            1. You are right: I know only about short-term vinegared pickles or long/short term salt pickles but Asia is so big!

      1. There are actually quite a few Asian long-term pickles, but they tend to take a long time to make, with many complicated steps. For Japanese pickles, umiboshi (pickled plum) and takuan (radish pickled in rice bran) come to mind. There’s also another one with fermented greens that’s made in Northern Japan (I can’t remember the name). Many kimchis are long-term pickles. I’m not as familiar with Chinese pickling, but I would imagine that there are long term pickles there as well – they preserved eggs, why not pickles? At any rate, I think the quick-pickles are just a lot easier and convenient for the home cook. I still want to make takuan some day!

        I have a great video on various types of Japanese pickles, I wish I could find a copy to link you to on youtube.

        1. Thank you so much, Susan. I have heard about long-term Asian pickles (I prepare kimchi all the time myself) and I know fermentation is traditional all around the world, but I meant vinegared pickles. I have never heard of long-term vinegared pickles from Asia while European vinegar pickles keep fresh for years. I did pickle in rice-bran once. It was extraordinary! Thank you for reminding me.
          On the other hand, all the fermented pickles, even those which are longer term, need low temperatures (fridge or very cold cellar) to keep them edible. In Europe we stop even the salt fermentation of cucumbers or cabbage with jars processing which is to my knowledge not practiced in Asia. This also surprises me.

  5. I’m smiling over Eva’s comment because I used to drink copious amounts of vinegar (both from vinegar bottles and olive jars) — yup, another vinegar lover here! :). The ginger and soy brings this version to a whole other level of deliciousness and reminds me of the one and only you!! Very fitting and a great idea Sissi.

    1. Hi, Kelly. Thank you so much for kind compliments. I’m not a vinegar drinker but know someone who also likes olive brine 😉 On the other hand I love sauerkraut juice (full of vitamins and great against hangover 😉 ).

  6. I like the sound of this cucumber…soy and ginger and a touch of sweet…looks delicious Sissi.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are having a great week 😀

  7. Well, always two thumbs up on your pickling recipes and I’m sure this one will be added to the winning list. I wish I have the patience and skills to make pickles like you. Have a lovely coming weekend, Sissi. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Ray. It’s really nothing to do with patience or skills! Pickling is much easier than so many dishes and it’s worth the time since you don’t eat it in one evening!

    1. Thanks a lot, Squishy Monster. Pickling is also a way to look forward to colder months when you will open the pantry full of yummy jars 🙂

  8. Hi Sissi – fantastic looking pickle! I could eat cucumber pickle all day; I adore that slightly chewy crunch it gets when it’s been well pickled.

    Would you believe it… I went to a “pick-your-own” farm the other day and they were growing… “cornichons”! I thought of you earlier post when I saw it. I want to try and get back there soon to pick some myself!

    1. Thanks a lot, Charles. I’d hurry if I were you: cornichons don’t have a very long season… Here they are finished already (I live in a warmer climate).

  9. I have another batch of of cucumber out on the vines so I definitely will be making a small batch of these pickles! Love the ginger and soy! I can already think of many ways to use these pickles other than just right out of the jar. Thanks for another fabulous pickle recipe!!!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I hope you will test this recipe. I have really enjoyed the Asian touch with both Asian and Western dishes.

  10. Hi Sissi!!! While I was in Japan, my mom prepare all different kinds of tsukemono for every meal and it was fantastic. Now back to my own home, there is not even one tsukemono on table. I need to train my husband and kids to eat it with rice (true Japanese style!), so that we can enjoy more homemade pickles. Love this recipe. I learn Japanese recipes from you, which is really, really cool Sissi!!

  11. I can see your great love for pickling Sissi! I love pickled cucumber as well but I have never tried to infuse it with soy sauce! You are a constant inspiration especially when it comes to Asiatic kitchen! Have a great weekend my friend!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina, for such kind words. I am a serial pickler 😉 Frankly, apart from the tiny French cornichons, all the preserves I have tried doing at home taste so much better than the bought ones, not to mention the different versions one can make at home.

  12. Soy and ginger is always a great combination, and in the pickling process…this is something new for me. I love all kinds of pickled veggies, and this is one recipe that I would love to try out; looks easy enough to make and not having to spend hours of preparation as ie: pickling peppers. I just googled how to pickle the Hungarian wax peppers which we have an abundance of in our produce markets!

    1. Thanks a lot, Elisabeth. These pickles are quite easy indeed (frankly I find most pickling recipes easy, once you have gathered empty jars). Have you seen my peppers pickling recipe? It’s really easy and I have been making it successfully for years! http://www.withaglass.com/?p=11052

  13. I have 8 pint jars in the canner now. Was wondering what to do with the last of the cucumbers, then I remembered to check your blog… Voila! Of course you had a recipe!

    1. Hi, Mary Jane. I’m very flattered to learn you thought about checking my blog. Please bear in mind I haven’t tested these jars’ pantry life for more than two months… All my other Western-style pickles have been tested for more than a year. This one contains soy sauce which is my only worry for a longer period of storage. If you prepare these cucumbers, please let me know if you liked them. Good luck!

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