In my last post I translated a piece by Keiko Matsunaga about Gion and Chrysanthemums. Here, Matsunaga-sensei gives her recipe and technique for making turnips look like chrysanthemums, which is not only a delicious seasonal recipe but also provides practice in perfecting the skills of knife-handling. Following the recipe I have added a video to demonstrate the technique. You can also read more about “chysanthemum turnip” pickles at Kyoto Foodie.
Matsunaga-sensei’s Kikka-kabura (Chrysanthemum Turnips)
1 large turnip
3 pieces of konbu, each about 3cms square
2-3 small dried chillies
Sweetened rice vinegar, made by adding 35gm of sugar per 100ml of rice vinegar
Preparing the turnip:
1. Cut the greens off the top of the turnip, and after washing the turnip thoroughly, peel it and then cut it in half lengthways.
2. Cut a slice about 2.5cm from the top end.
3. About 5mm inside the skin side, you’ll see a ring line. No matter how long you boil the turnip, this fibrous outer ring won’t soften, so cut back to that line (don’t discard this outer cutting though – you can use it in other recipes).
4. Place the turnip slice flat and make fine lengthways incisions close together all along the slice, cutting about 2/3 into the thickness, being careful not to cut all the way through.
5. Turn the turnip slice around 90° and do the same thing widthways.
6. Carefully turn the turnip up-side-down, with the cuts on the bottom, and then cut the turnip slice into 2cm wide squares
Directions for making Chrysanthemum Turnip pickles:
1. Take the turnip squares you’ve prepared as per above and weigh them. Calculate 2% of the weight and that is how much salt you are going to need to use. Cover the turnips with salt and put aside for 30 minutes to an hour, so that the turnips soften. Then drain off the excess moisture from the turnips.
2. Rinse thoroughly in running water, then gently squeeze out the water, being careful not to disturb the fine cuts.
3. Add the konbu and the dried chillies to the sweetened vinegar and then put the turnips in the vinegar and leave them in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days to pickle.
4. To serve, separate out the little ‘petals’ so that it looks like a chrysanthemum, and add a thin slice of chilli in the middle for garnish.
In this video, the cook shows us a nifty trick to prevent the knife from cutting all the way through the turnip by using chopsticks.
This is a recipe from Matsunaga-sensei’s cookbook, for pickled rakkyo, a Japanese scallion that is harvested in mid-summer, pickled with takanotsume [hawk’s claw] chilli peppers…
This is a simple pickling method that anyone can do. The characteristic smell and spiciness of pickled rakkyo, with its nice crunchy texture, can be enjoyed throughout the year. I enjoy eating these pickles every day because they go well with so many dishes.
Rakkyo bulbs (cut and rinsed) 1 kg
Salt 50-60 gms
Rice vinegar 500-600 mls
Sugar 300-400 gms
Takanotsume dried chillies 2 or 3
A wide-rimmed preserving jar
1) Place the rice vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
2) Rinse the rakkyo in water.
3) Put the rakkyo into a saucepan with enough water to cover the bulbs and bring to the boil. Remove from heat.
4) Drain the rakkyo in a colander and while it is still hot, sprinkle the salt over the rakkyo and mix in well. Leave the rakkyo in the colander to cool.
5) Place the rakkyo in the preserving jar with the takanostume chillies and pour in the liquid from (1).
6) The pickles will be ready to eat in about one month and will keep for up to one year.
Mibuna is one of Kyoto’s designated traditional vegetables called kyo-yasai, which feature in Kyoto’s unique culinary genres such as obanzai style cooking. It is a mustard green with a delicate flavour that is a naturally occurring hybrid of mizuna. Mibuna is at its peak in the middle of May. The name means a “herb that comes from Mibu,” which is an area in Kyoto city surrounding Mibu-dera, a 1000-year-old temple that is famous for its Kyogen (comic Japanese drama). Recently there has been a great revival of interest in Mibu because of the popularity of the TV series Shinsengumi about a special police force that was formed there in 1863. Nowadays, mibuna is mainly produced by small family-based farmers in Hiyoshi village, just north of Nantan city in Kyoto prefecture.
Today’s recipe is a simple pickle dish that is used as an accompaniment to rice and is also found in other Kyoto dishes, which will be added in the days to come.
壬生菜の塩漬け – mibuna no shiodzuke
20gms of salt per 500gms of mibuna
Thinly sliced red chili pepper
1) Wash the mibuna well and drain thoroughly
2) Cut the mibuna into 2cm lengths and place in a bowl
3) Mix in the salt and chili slices, kneading the salt into the mibuna
4) Place a lid into the bowl so that it covers over the mibuna, then add a heavy weight (such a large can of fruit) and leave it for about 8 to 10 hours
Source: Yosu Yoshida from Nanba Farmer’s Cooperative