Well, this lunch was made just after my squid sakura tree bento, using a couple of leftovers.
The Bottom Tier contains leftover blue rice (food dye), and sakura flowers cut from pink-dyed eggs, with black sesame seed centers. Wasabi furikake in the mini shaker, and a bunny bottle of soy sauce, because I couldn't decide what to eat the rice with.
The Top Tier contains a green-dyed fishy egg (I later realized it was greener on the other side [ha ha!], and would have looked a little better the other way around), broccoli, some home-made chinese pork, and some home-made tsukemono carrots!
Which brings me to the rest of today's post. I bought this tsukemono (Japanese pickle) press on ebay after reading a bit about tsukemono. I was very interested to try making real Japanese pickles at home. >^_^<
I could not read the suggested recipes in the little booklet at all, but after searching online for tsukemono, I found that the most basic recipes are simply vegetables and salt (salt preservation being part of much of Japanese food tradition), and although carrots are often recommended to be pressed with cabbage, I did carrots by themselves to try it out. I placed 3 large carrots, shredded, in with 3 teaspoons of salt, well mixed. The salts brings the liquid out of the carrots right away. The idea is that the carrots will pickle in their own liquid, which is made by being drawn out by the salt as well as by the pressure.
As you can see, it does not look like much in the container, but just these three carrots have lasted me quite a while!
After the 12 hours these carrots needed to sit in the press, I was ready to pack some in a lunch. I tried some, and was actually surprised to find that they tasted like salt. Yep, just salt. Go figure, right?
I felt kind of silly having expected them to have some sort of flavor of their own. I mean, gee, a vegetable pressed in salt now tastes like pure salt- big surprise, right? Ha ha. (I suppose that's why tsukemono is a rice topping. These salt pickles really do make a good topping for plain rice.)
It reminded me of when I had purchased a package of umeboshi from the natural foods store. I keep seeing people use umeboshi in their lunches, and I had really wanted to try some. Oddly enough, although I had read that umeboshi was made by pickling the ume fruit in barrels of salt, I really expected them to have some sort of fruity flavor of their own. When I tried one, it was like pure salt! Go figure again, huh? The umeboshi came covered in shiso leaves (beefsteak plant) (more salt!). I have included some pictures of the umeboshi package and umeboshi under a cut for those interested. >^_^<
I'm hoping I can learn to use these in a way that I'll like soon.
Rice Vinegar modified Tsukemono
So, although the salt pickle carrots were pretty good on rice, I was looking for something more like a familiar pickle, sort of. So I placed the remaining carrots in a small Lock & Lock box, and topped it off with rice vinegar. I added a couple spoonfuls of sugar as well, mixed a bit and let them sit. They came out pretty well, they still have a sharp rice vinegar flavor, but I like that just fine. I now eat some of these once in a while on rice or just alongside the lunch. >^_^<
I'm looking forward to picking up one of the tsukemono books I've seen online, and finding more and other types of pickle recipes to try.