Japanese Pickles / Otsukemono お漬物(おつけもの)

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

日本語会話 初級 中級

Along with white rice and miso soup, pickles are a staple of the Japanese diet. It would not be an understatement to say that the Japanese eat vegetables in the form of pickles rather than salad. Pickled fish and meat also are common, but here I’d like to focus on common vegetable pickles consumed in daily life.

Vinegar liquid-based pickles are common in the States, but the two most common pickling agents in Japan are solid-based salt and nuka; the rice bran (the hard outer layer of rice grains generated during the milling process). Nuka contains many nutrients including vitamins, antioxidants, and antitoxins. Common vegetables used for pickles are Chinese cabbage, radish, carrot, cucumber, and eggplant. A nuka pickle bed (called Nukadoko) used to ferment the vegetables can last for years and often is handed down from generation to generation. Aged and well-tended nukadoko can make tastier pickles, but a nukadoko owner needs to maintain it by removing moisture and injecting oxygen by kneading the bed daily. It is a living organism, so the same level of care as a house plant would be required. For those who don’t have time to tend nukadoko, there are specialty shops! (Thank goodness!) The freshest pickles can be purchased at tsukemonoya (pickle store) like the one in the picture, or even convenience stores carry packaged otukemono.

Pickling using sakekasu (residue created during distilling sake-rice) also is common. It’s not as potent as nuka and makes sweeter flavored pickles. All pickles are delicious and go so well with hot white rice. The only problem with otsukemono is the high salt content. Did you know that the Japanese are at higher risk of stomach cancer? It is said that daily consumption of otsukemono is a contributing factor to the over consumption of salt. Well, like everything else, moderation is the key to enjoy delicious otsukemono.

日本語会話 初級

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日本語会話 中級

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A: お母(かあ)さん、糠漬け(ぬかづけ)の作り方(つくりかた)を教(おし)えてくれない

B: (笑)まあ、どうしたの急(きゅう)に

A: えっ 別(べつ)に。 ちょっと知(し)りたいなあっと思(おも)って。

B: 今(いま)まで、お料理(りょうり)にも興味(きょうみ)がなかったくせに。あらっ、もしかして彼氏(かれし)でもできたんじゃない? 

A: ばれたか。お漬物の作り方ぐらい知ってないと恥(は)ずかしいと思って。

B: 糠漬けは面倒臭い(めんどうくさい)わよ。糠床(ぬかどこ)の手入れ(ていれ)も大変(たいへん)だ。 塩漬け(しおづけ)なら簡単(かんたん)だから、それから始(はじ)めたら? 

A: そうね。じゃ、今週(こんしゅう)の週末(しゅうまつ)に教(おし)えてくれる? 

B: いいわよ。あなたにお漬物の作り方を教える日が来(く)るなんて、思(おも)ってもてもいなかったわ。


で p. =within compare with other usage of で

何が when interrogatives are a topic, が is always used.

白ごはん n. white rice. ごはん alone generally refers to white rice.

お味噌汁 n. miso-soup お is a beatifying particle.

お漬物 n. pickles お is a beatifying particle

色々な ナ-adj. various

けど conj. =but, けど/けれど

たくあん n. radish pickles

時 n. =when plain form of a verb+とき 食べた時(when I ate)

臭い イ-adj. smelly

と p. used to refer thoughts that come before と

だんだん adv. gradually

慣れてきて てform+くる begin to (verb), here "begin to get used to(the smell)"

大好きになる ナadj(or noun)になる turn to (adj), here turn to like it a lot.

白菜 n. はくさい=Chinese cabbage

浅漬け n. quick pickles marinated either in salt or nuka

残っていて ている, present progress or state of being. Here is latter.

〜に 合う go well with~

あれば conditional form of ある

後は 後(あと)+は = after that

何も〜ない complete negation. here, I don't need anything else.

食べ過ぎ ますform+過ぎ, excess of (v), here, eating too much

た方がいい =better be (v)ing, here, better be paying attention

塩分(えんぶん) n. salt content

多いそうです そうです=here-say, compare with 多そうです

から =since

教えてくれない colloquial expression. てform+くれる+ませんか, do you mind (v)ing

急に adv. suddenly

別に colloquial expression. =nothing special

たくせに plain form (v) +くせに, despite the fact that (v)

でも p. suggests possible option. Here, possibly you got a boyfriend? compare with other usages of でも

ばれたか v. ばれる=being exposed + particle か 

ぐらい p. at least, here, at least I should know how to make pickles. Compare with くらい to express approximate quantity.

面倒臭い イ-adj. tiresome

し p. to list one of the examples. (Here, to list one of reasonings why making nukazuke is tiresome.)

たら p. conditional. compare with れば

なんて p. (v)なんて to express surprise. Here, (I can't believe) such day has arrived.

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