The Japanese take their pickling very seriously and with good reason – they’re experts at it. Normally pickling takes some patience and forethought, as vegetables take days and often months to cure. This recipe is pickling for the time poor, or the poorly planned. These pickles are all designed to be their best on the night. You can eat them right away, but they’ll hit their stride after an hour or so.
- 200 g mixed Asian mushrooms such as shiitake, shimeji and baby oyster
- 185 ml rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 3 tsp finely shredded ginger
- 2-3 tsp caster sugar
- ½ tsp instant dashi powder (see note)
- ½ tsp black sesame seeds, toasted
Pickled spring onions
- 1 bunch spring onions, cut into 3 cm lengths
- ½ bunch red radish, sliced into thin wedges
- 185 ml (¾ cup) rice vinegar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) mirin
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp finely grated ginger
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 10 shiso leaves (see note), finely sliced
- 300 g small cucumbers
- ½ cup red miso paste (see note)
- 1½ tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp cooking sake (see note)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Pickling time 30 minutes
To make the pickled mushrooms, wipe the tops with a damp cloth to remove any dirt. Cut shiitake into thick slices and separate shimeji and baby oyster mushrooms into single pieces. Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, ginger, caster sugar, dashi powder and 80 ml (⅓ cup) water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, add mushrooms, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool. To serve, drain the liquid, transfer the mushrooms and ginger to a bowl and sprinkle over the sesame seeds.
To make the pickled spring onions, bring a medium-sized saucepan of well-salted water to the boil. Separate the thin green tips of the spring onion and set aside. Add the remaining spring onion to the saucepan and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved tips, turn off the heat and steep for 30 seconds. Drain and refresh in cold water, then drain again. Combine the spring onions, radish, rice vinegar, mirin, salt, ginger, sesame oil, half the shiso leaves and 60 ml (¼ cup) water. Toss to combine, taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside for 30 minutes. To serve, drain liquid, transfer spring onions and radish to a bowl, and top with remaining shiso.
To make the miso cucumbers, cut cucumbers lengthways into quarters then in half crossways. Combine the miso paste, rice vinegar, mirin, sake and garlic, and mix until smooth. Add the cucumbers and mix until well coated in the paste. Set aside for 30 minutes. To serve, remove the cucumbers from the miso cure and briefly rinse or wipe away almost all of the cure. Place the cucumbers in a bowl. Stir the miso cure to incorporate the cucumber water and drizzle lightly over the cucumbers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
• Instant dashi powder, shiso leaves, miso paste and cooking sake are all available from Japanese food stores and some Asian grocers.