The Tsukémono Book:
Tsukémono is the title of a new cookbook about performing traditional Japanese magic on vegetables. It is Eastern alchemy with salt as its magical medium. Tsukémono are fermented
vegetables, known in the West as pickles. This century old method is super easy to use at home.
Natural food expert and chef Peter van Berckel will teach you the traditional, yet fast and simple Japanese method of vegetable pickling for home use.
There are more than fifty traditional, often vegan Japanese recipes and western pickles to choose from. The book also offer handy information on how to use healthy nutritious foods as a boost for your daily life.
- The Japanese Tsukémono
- Japanese Meals
- Pickling or brining?
- Using the pickling-press
- Basic flavours
- Flavouring your Tsukémono
- Healthy foods and vitality
“Culinary inspiration… it is all about the flavour of the fast fermented pickle. Pickling gives vegetables a refreshing salty flavour and a unique crispy texture. And it is extremely healthy. Peter van Berckel wrote a wonderful book about it titled Tsukémono, Japanese for vegetable pickles. The Japanese eat Tsukémono pickles with every meal. I started experimenting and became extremely excited about fast and short fermentations. By now I am ‘addicted’ to a pickle a day…”
“Tsukémono is Japanese for fermented vegetables made in a so called ‘pickle press’. One could call them the kimchi of Japan, even though fermentation is often much lighter. These are served with every Japanese meal for their beneficial influence on digestion. After reading van Berckel’s self-published book you will be a Tsukémono expert. When ordering this book through his website, it is best to order the simple pickle press as well, for you definitely want to start pickling straight away.”
WHAT IS TSUKÉMONO?
Of all the unique flavours from Japan, tsukémono or pickled vegetables, are always part of every Japanese meal. They are served with rice as a side dish, as snacks to accompany drinks in cafes, and as a course in the kaiseki part of a Japanese tea ceremony. The city of Kyoto is thé place to experience tsukémono. Many shops in town are specialized in selling pickles.
Subtlety and simplicity are important characteristics of the Japanese kitchen. Every meal is supposed to be a variety of colour, flavours, and cooking techniques, based on nutritional values and aesthetics. Tsukémono is one element to achieve this harmony. The trinity of miso soup, rice, and a tsukémono pickle is the cornerstone of the traditional Japanese meal. It is a much loved dish, even for breakfast.
The term tsukémono (pronounced tskèh-mohnnó) describes food that goes through a change of taste or texture because it is rubbed with salt, or submerged in a salty liquid or paste. ‘Tsuké’ means ‘marinated’ or ‘submerged’, and ‘mono’ means ‘thing’. The ‘thing’ in this case is nearly always a vegetable.
Besides salt, the Japanese also use vinegar, miso, soy sauce, nuka bran, mustard and sugar as a medium to make tsukémono. Tsukémono is always a small side dish. One eats at most a few spoon fulls per day, so no need to worry about excessive intake of salt. One can quickly make tsukémono in a pickle press. Peter van Berckel’s book is all about this pickle press technique. (So far the book is only available in the Dutch language. Please inform Peter if you know a publisher who is interested in a English translation!).
Tsukémono, is also called ‘chopstick break’: a pickle eaten as a small snack in between courses, with a totally different flavour and texture from the rest of a meal. It cleans the pallet, neutralizes tastes and offers a refreshing counter balance to heavy or fatty dishes. Thanks to its short preparation time, tsukémono is also known as the ‘impatient pickle’.
There are many ways to make tsukémono. The quick and easy way is to rub vegetables with salt, and subject to pressure in a pickle press. The pickling process can take a few hours or days. Other fermentation processes can take weeks, months or even years. The end result is a change in taste, texture, nutritional value, and shelf life through fermentation, and can be subtle or enormous.
Transformation is one aspect of tsukémono. The pressure of the pickling process can change vegetables to such an extend that one can barely recognize what is eaten. The emergence of an enormously crispy vegetable from the pickle press is an absolute culinary sensation.
WHY WOULD ONE MAKE TSUKÉMONO IN A PICKLE PRESS?
CRUNCH AND FLAVOUR
Pickling is culinary enrichment: a concentrated flavour is created and vegetables become crispy. This crispness is truly unique to this process.
EFFECTS ON HEALTH
During the early stage of the fermentation process, beneficial bacteria and enzymes are created, which support one’s digestive and immune systems.
You will quickly become familiar with this simple technique, which is easy to integrate into one’s daily cooking routine. One sets the prickle press with vegetables and some salt under pressure aside for a few hours, causing a flying start to the fermentation process.
”I have trialled many recipes from his book, and surprised many guests during presentations. The beauty of the pickle press is its user-friendliness. Thanks to its modern appearance it has become part of my presentations.”
‘Peter van Berckel is part fo a new generation of fermentation teachers that are emerging world-wide. Peter is a self taught fermentation researcher, who is driven to share what he has learned. He is heavily influenced by the increadable versatile Japanese fermentation tradition, called tsukémono and makes use of a handy and simple Japanese tool: the pickle press.’
”Many books have already been written about fermentation, but Slow Food member Peter van Berckel’s Tsúkemono is unique. The book is not only easy to read, but also magnificently designed with Japanese simplicity and beautifully illustrated with photos. Get going with the book, the pickle press, vegetables, and seasoning, and a new world will reveal itself to you. I highly recommend the book for anyone who is into healthy, tasty, and natural foods.”
ABOUT PETER VAN BERCKEL
“Fermentation is in my genes”, says Peter van Berckel, when asked where his passion for
fermentation comes from. My forefathers brewed beer and distilled jenever (Holland gin) using fermentation. The Van Berckel family was the owner of the bear brewery ‘The Crowned P’, in Delft since 1700.
For 30 years I have been involved with natural and organic foods as a consumer and food professional. I have always been interested in fermentation. I have been using current trendy products such as: sourdough bread, kombucha, kvass, kefir and tempeh, for decades. Products from the Japanese macrobiotic treasure box such as miso, shoyu and tamari, natto, mirin, umeboshi have also been part of my diet, and of course the pickle press.
I was not only interested in consuming these products, but also had the desire to understand their processes, and make them myself. In 2013 I came across a book by Sandor Katz titled ‘Wild Fermentation’. After that everything became a salty whirlwind: studying, experimentation, developing fermentation workshops, and teaching.
My interest in Japanese fermentation lead to the development of a tsukémono workshop. I was hugely attracted to the ease with which one can support one’s health with a very quick and accessible method that simultaneously produced tasty and crispy results. In turn, the workshop led to the writing of my book. I visited Japan where daily practices confirmed my knowledge. The Japanese serve a tsukémono pickle with every traditional meal. Fermentation is an adventurous culinary journey of discovery. I keep observing positive effects on my health, digestion and vitality.
Fermentation and Natural Foods Expert & Chef | 06-46166770 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter is based in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, where you will find his wonderful fermentation laboratory and workshop.