This summer, we are growing a small ‘Asian Garden’ section in our student garden at the farm. I worked with Lei Shen (another Food Studies MA student) to select Japanese and Chinese crops and varieties to grow. Some have been more successful than others!

One of the Japanese crops we are growing is hinona kabu, a variety of turnips. These turnips are often used to make a quick pickle in Japan called ‘sakura-zuke.’ Sakura means cherry blossom, and zuke means pickle. Hinona kabu are purple on top and white on the bottom, so when they are pickled, they turn pink like sakura/cherry blossoms- thus they are called sakura-zuke.

I tried making some, and they turned out delicious! Crisp, sweet, and sour, with a little radish bite to them. If you’d like to try it yourself, you can order seeds here, and the recipe is below!

Sakura Zuke or Cherry Blossom Pickle

(From Kitazawa Seed Company’s website)


1 bunch Hinona Kabu turnips
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

Trim the top off the turnip to make a flat base. Place 2 pencils or other sticks on a cutting board to stop the knife from cutting all the way through the root. Place the turnip on its top (now a flat base) between the sticks. With a sharp knife, make 4 to 6 cuts the full length of the turnip ending carefully at the sticks. This way there will be a piece of turnip intact to hold it together. Turn the root 90° and make another 4 to 6 cuts, stopping at the sticks. Repeat this with all the turnips.

Put the cut turnips in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and lightly massage it in. Place a plate that is smaller than the diameter of the bowl on top of the radishes. Put a weight on top of the plate to force some of the liquid out. After 30 minutes remove the plate and drain the liquid.

Stir the vinegar and sugar together until dissolved, heating a little if necessary. Pour over the turnips and leave at least 8 hours or longer to marinate.

Drain well before serving. Use with green leaves as a garnish.

Will keep well at least 3 weeks.


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