Pickled food is often a side dish in Japanese cuisine but it’s one of the must-have items that many Japanese households have for meals. Almost anything can be pickled. (Here’s a previous post on some pickled foods: http://blogs.transparent.com/japanese/pickled-food/) For example Rakkyōzuke (ラッキョウ漬け) is a type of pickled onion that is used as a side dish to curry. The rakkyōzuke is consumed to offset some of the spiciness of the curry.
Kasuzuke (粕漬け) refers to a type of pickling method whereby fish or vegetables are pickled in the yeast of sake (酒). The picture on the left is an example of a fish that has been pickled in sake kasu (酒粕). Sake kasu is a type of yeast that can be found in sake that serves as a powerful pickling agent. When fish is pickled in using sake yeast, there is a pungent to mild taste. However when vegetables are pickled in this way, they can taste sweet or mild.
Nukazuke (糠漬け) is a type of pickling method where vegetables are fermented in nuka (糠) or ‘rice bran’. Some people use cornflakes or wheat bran as an alternative to rice bran, but whatever is used, it is mixed with kelp, salt, water and sometimes wine, beer or ginger. Then vegetables like radish, cucumber, carrots, eggplants are placed in this mixture and left for a few days to ferment. For a strong flavor some people even ferment the vegetables for a month.
Asazuke (浅漬け) is a type of pickling method where vegetables are pickled for a very short time period. Due to the short time period, asazuke vegetables are less pungent and contain some of the original freshness of the vegetable. The vegetables commonly used for asazuke are cucumbers, carrots, daikon (大根) or radish, eggplant and hakusai (白菜) or white cabbage. The vegetables are pickled in salt or vinegar that range from an hour to several hours.