Saturday, August 11, 2012

Making Nukazuke Paste, stage one

Nuka pickles are by far my most favourite way to eat vegetables.  All summer long, the vegi come streaming out of my garden and into my Nuka pot, so much so that by the end of the season, it's a soggy mass.  The water of the vegetables are extracted by the paste while the pickling happen.

Nukazuke or Nuka pickles are made by first creating a fermented paste from rice bran then submerging vegetables in this paste for between 4 hours to 2 days.  This gives the vegetables a refreshing flavour and, like many fermented foods, has a very calming effect on the stomach.

I've never made my own Nuka paste before, my friend usually sends me a ready made bag of the stuff - bless her little cotton socks.  The problem is, you can only fit so many carrots, cucumbers, turnips, &c in it at one time.

Making Nuka is a lot like making a sourdough starter.  If you can get a tsp of Nuka paste from an active batch, it should be a lot easier to get things started.

So here we go, my Nuka pot adventure.  I won't know until the end how successful this is, but going from what little I can make out of the Japanese instructions on the back of the package, plus what the internet says, this is what I figure will work.

How to Make Nukazuke Paste

800g nuka powder
100g sea salt (non iodized)
dry kombu (kelp)
dry chilli
(optional) 1 tsp of Nuka paste

  • Mix the salt and powder together in a non-reactive container
  • Add water, a little at a time, until you have a fairly dry paste.

  • Submerge the kelp and chilli in the paste (being careful not to break the chilli and release the seeds), and pat down the surface of the paste until smooth.
Not the most photogenic of foodstuff, is it? But when it comes to Nuka Paste, looks are deceiving.
  • IMPORTANT - with a clean damp cloth, wipe the excess paste from around the edge.  This will probably go mouldy if you leave it.
  • Cover with a pickle lid or with a clean piece of clingwrap.  Keep in a coolish dark place in the kitchen.  Stir the paste at least twice a day, three times in hot weather.
  • After 4 days to a week, the paste should be ready to use and have a slightly sour smell to it like sourdough starter does.  Remove the chilli and kombu.
Now you are ready to use the paste to make Nukazuke.  I'll post more on that later.

Even if you don't use the Nuka paste, you still need to stir it every day.  If you are leaving for a few days, it may keep in the fridge for up to 3 days without being stirred, but, then again, it may not.

As for vegan friendly - I don't know.  I think it might be as long as it is okay for vegans to eat fermented foods like sourdough, then it would be okay to eat this.  Although sometimes, Nukazuke powder does contain eggshells, so you would need to double check.

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