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.
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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。
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
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.