Saturday, January 19, 2013

Simple Pickled Japanese Turnips

Unless you have Japanese background or a love for Japanese food, you may have never heard of takuan, a type of pickled radish.  It is something I buy once in a while from the Japanese market, and always enjoy greatly when I do.

It is made from daikon radish (the gigantic long white radish that some markets carry), and since I grew some in the garden this year, I decided to look up a recipe to make homemade takuan.  Well, it is not so simple.  The radish is hung outside for weeks to dehydrate, then pickled in a brine with persimmon peels and kelp and other such not-always-readily-available things in a weighted press.  More of an endeavor than I have time to take.

So I looked up cheater versions.  But they involved yellow food coloring and large amounts of sugar, two things I try to stay away from.  So I made up my own simple recipe.  And because I only had one daikon radish, I threw some little white Japanese turnips in the pickling jar as well.

And you know what?  The turnips were the best part.

Now this recipe is in no way authentic.  Authentic takuan has a dehydrated texture, and a rich sweet flavor that can only be developed during a long process.  These pickles are quick and simple, something you can do in 10 minutes with no special equipment.  But if you are like me, steering away from overly-processed or expensive pickles in favor of quick homemade pickles, these are a nice easy one to add to the mix.

And I heard recently that the Japanese life expectancy is 10 years longer than Americans.  That is huge!  Maybe some pickled vegetables and miso soup for breakfast instead of chorizo burritos has something to do with it...

Simple Pickled Turnips Recipe

2 bunches of small turnips (like Japanese turnips)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric

In a pot, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and turmeric to a boil, stirring.  Pour into the canning jar and set aside to cool.

Quarter the turnips and place in the jar with the cooled brine.  Let sit in the fridge for at least a day to develop.

Eat plain or on hot rice.


  1. I love the pale color these turned out! It always freaks me out to eat those neon red, pink, and yellow ones they sell at the store. My mom says if I eat pickles I will be skinnier (but I think its the sticky rice I like to have them with that kills that plan).

  2. Simplicity in pickles tastes the best and keeps one healthy too.


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