Happy New Year, my dear visitors! I hope all of you have spent wonderful festive days and that your return to active life was not too hard. I don’t know if any of you feel the same, but I have big remorses about all I’ve devoured during the previous weeks and, just like every year, try to eat lighter and thus feel better. Low-fat soups and konnyaku products have become staples and I turned my interest to healthier activities in the kitchen, such as an intense use of the pickling jars brought from my last trip to Japan.
Even though nothing compares to the short sun-scented summer cucumbers, I find the winter greenhouse-grown specimens fully acceptable, especially in a pickled form, so the first pickling session that came to mind was this simple salted cucumber. Perfect introduction to the world of tsukemono (Japanese pickles), it is so quick, you won’t believe the results. Actually it’s so easy I even didn’t follow any recipe not counted ingredients’ amounts… I simply took salt, cucumbers and… it worked every single time. Sprinkled with salt and pressed with a heavy object, cucumber pieces acquire a different texture, taste and colour, but still remain fresh and crunchy. For me it’s a perfect light snack, side-dish or addition to salads, sandwiches and even stir-fries.
If you feel like experimenting further with tsukemono, here are some other Japanese pickling ideas (not all of them adapted to winter season though):
Preparation: 10 minutes + 1 or 2 hours
salt (no more than a heaped tablespoon per 1 long cucumber)
You may peel the cucumber completely, peel one in two horizontal lines or leave the skin on (I prefer to leave the skin on the smooth long cucumbers and peel partly only the short cucumbers with thicker skin).
Cut the cucumber in two lengthwise, then slice it thickly (about 1/2-1/3 cm thick).
Place in a jar or bowl in layers, sprinkling each layer with salt.
Place on top a heavy lid or another bowl or for example a jar/glass filled with water and leave for one or two hours.
Serve, drained, as a snack or side-dish.
Your pickles will keep in the fridge for maximum two days. You can eat them for a longer time, but they will lose their crispiness.