Tokyo turnips? Small. Kyoto turnips? Gargantuan. This pickle is the pride of Kyoto, as it’s customarily made from the massive orbs found in the region. That said, you needn’t pack your passport to make this. Any sort of turnip will work here; just go with the largest ones that you can find. If the skin is tough or bitter, just peel it off. Note that a mandoline or some serious knife skills are necessary for this recipe.
Time: About 4 hours
- ¼ oz. of dried konbu
- 12-14 oz. turnips, about 1 very large one (or several smaller ones), peeled if the skin is bitter or tough
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 T sugar
- 3 T unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 T mirin
- 1 T lemon juice
Let the konbu soak in water, covered by 2 inches, for 1 hour.
Using a mandoline, slice the turnip very, very thinly – to ⅛ of an inch (or 3mm). Toss the turnip with half of the salt, flatten it down, and then sprinkle the remaining salt evenly over the top. Cover with a drop lid and a 14 oz. weight. Let the turnip sit for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, vinegar, mirin, and lemon juice. Once the konbu is tender enough to handle (don’t worry, it will tenderize more later) drain it and pat it dry. Chop into 2” long slivers, and add it to the brine. Let this sit while waiting for the turnip to macerate.
Once the turnip is sweating liquid, remove the weight and lid and squeeze it very firmly, discarding the liquid, until nothing more drips from it when squeezed. Add the turnip to the brine and seaweed and stir well to combine. Cover with a drop lid again, and weight with a 1 lb. ballast. Let this sit for 2 hours.
Your Senmai-zuke is now ready to eat. Kept covered, this pickle will last in the refrigerator for at least a month.
Makes about 12 oz.