Salt-Pickled Turnips

Shiozuke is a type of salt-pickling in Japan, kept chilled and without fermentation.  The result is a cold, crunchy texture with a slightly soured but salty hint to the natural flavors of the vegetable you are using, perfect for spring or summer when the temperatures go up. These pickles will only take a couple of hours to be ready to eat and are easy to prepare for a meal ahead of time.  In this recipe we also use the leaves of the turnip for the occasional splash of bitterness as well as lemon zest for a hint of sweet citrus.  When they are ready, you will end up with a very fresh but subtly complex combination of flavors. Note: You could also use daikon or radishes instead, with leaves of course!

Salt-Pickled Turnips

Serves about 4

1lb of Turnips with leaves, peeled and cut into half-rounds at about 1/8in thick about 2.5in-3in wide. Save about 2 cups worth of leaves torn or cut in roughly 2in pieces. Save any leftover leaves for a salad, wrapping grilled meats or in place of lettuce for a sandwich or burger.

Sea Salt- 1/2oz or just under 2T, about 3% the weight of the turnips- Non-iodized as the iodization halts the fermentation process.

1 Lemon zest, peeled without the white inside of the rind and thinly sliced into pieces about 1in long.

Prepare and cut your turnips, turnip leaves and lemon zest as described and place into a bowl. Pour your salt on top and mix everything together, making sure to gently massage the salt into the turnips and leaves.  You will feel the water come out of the turnips slightly as you massage them.

In Japanese markets, this type of pickle is usually sold in beautifully decorated plastic bags as the sweating liquid from the radishes end up creating a brine. You can either put yours into a zip-lock bag or a tupperware and store in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours before serving.  You could even eat them immediately after massaging, but it’s always best to give them at least 30 minutes to sweat and for the flavors to transform slightly. Unlike kimchi, which typically can be kept for months, you should eat these within a few days otherwise you lose the crunch.

These go beautifully as a salad, a snack or paired with meats or a savory main, particularly Yaki Niku or your favorite BBQ.  The idea is to have the beautiful contrast of flavor between the main dish and the freshness of the pickled turnips.

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