Easiest Japanese Pickled Cucumber

pickled_cuc1Happy 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):

Japanese raw aubergine salad
Japanese raw aubergine salad
Overnight Japanese Pickled Celery
Overnight Japanese Pickled Celery
Japanese Dried and Pickled Daikon
Japanese Dried and Pickled Daikon
Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Japanese Pickled Cucumber with Soy Sauce and Ginger)
Kyuuri no Kyuuchan (Japanese Pickled Cucumber with Soy Sauce and Ginger)
Pickled Ginger (Gari)
Pickled Ginger (Gari)

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.




19 Replies to “Easiest Japanese Pickled Cucumber”

  1. Hi Sissi, Happy New Year! I hope you’re doing well. I was sick with cold last two weeks and finally feeling better. I’m so glad to able to visit your fabulous blog. I still have slight fever so this picked cucumber sounds very delicious, appetizing. Super nice pic too.

    1. Hi Nipponnin! Ohisashiburi!!!! I’m glad you feel better. Thank you so much for the compliments and take care of yourself!

  2. Sissi, I thought of you yesterday. My husband and I made the hour voyage up to San Francisco to wait another hour to eat at Tartine Bakery (always worth it :D). Our lunch was served with a singular field carrot on the side – handsome earth-pulled looking fellow – but what was most intriguing was its taste – it had been house pickled! (in this case a vinegar/brine). The texture was different from any carrot I have eaten – still crunchy but somehow very mildly softer (barely al dente) and the taste infusion permeated the entire carrot – so good – that mildly salty/briny taste throughout. Anyhow, I had read your post the night before we ate at the bakery and I was trying to imagine the result of these lovely compressed and salted cucumbers – eating the carrot immediately made me think of you. I was amazed by the subtle but notable difference it made in texture and taste and it had me thinking that I should definitely try the cucumber experiment. Thank you for this!

    1. Hi Kelly, thank you so much for the kind comment and for thinking about me 🙂 Have you asked them how they made it? Sometimes waiters give secrets away… I have never pickled carrots (apart from adding them sliced to Moomin’s Salad), but I must try experimenting! Your carrot sounds very intriguing.

      1. Hi Sissi, happy weekend! we did inquire about the pickling method but our waitress was not in the know and the place was so frantic (I’m not kidding 40+ people in line out the door) that it was not really an option to go up the ladder 🙂 it sure gave me pause though; I just loved the subtle salty/sweet of the carrot.

        1. You were right to try! One never knows… I am still glad I asked once a waiter in our favourite pizzeria about a hot sauce they were serving and I loved. He gave me just the list of ingredients and a vague idea of how it’s prepared, but afterwards I found several recipes on internet, tried making it and since then I’ve had this sauce constantly in the fridge! It’s so good (peperoncini sott’olio I posted some time ago)! (And the pizzeria’s quality of food and service has lowered so much, so we never go there any more).
          I will try pickling carrots one day certainly! You have really made me curious.

  3. It really is such a simple pickle. My dear Mom used to preserve parsley in layers of salt and use it in soups and sauces but I always found it too salty. I love that you only used a tablespoon or less, it sounds delicious. The salt definitely brings out that delicious summer flavour from the cucumbers.
    Happy new year, and yes, I too am riddled with regret and guilt from the eating and drinking. But I’m back on track and on my way to achieving my goal in time for a holiday in February. Perhaps next year I’ll be more moderate, but it’s not likely.

    1. Thank you, Eva. What an unusual way to store parsley. I have never heard about it! My mum has always frozen parsley leaves. Here you can use as much salt as you wish and also rinse the cucumber before eating. Good luck with your new year’s resolutions!

  4. This is so incredibly easy to make. Here winter cucumbers are so tasteless. I am expecting summer to come to enjoy them again. And perhaps I could pickle some while in season to enjoy them during winter!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. I must say I like even the winter cucumbers, especially when pickled though of course the taste is much better in the summer.

  5. This is probably the simplest pickles I’ve ever seen: Just two ingredients. So simple that even I can make it. Happy New Year to you too, Sissi. 🙂

    1. Happy New Year, Ray! I have never heard of simpler pickles either, but the Japanese pickle many vegetables this way… it’s always amazing for me to realise how such a quick and simple process changes the flavours.

  6. Well, you can’t get much easier than this! I do have a question. You say to leave them in the salt for 1 to 2 hours. Do they get better (but softer) if you leave them longer? At what point it too long?
    Thanks for another fabulously simple recipe!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. Yes, you can leave them for up to two days and either rinse before serving or not (if the amount of salt is not huge, I don’t think I need to). After three or four days the cucumber becomes limp and strange… Maybe because it’s not the special pickling variety? I usually keep them two days and then put into a salad just in case the taste worsens.

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