Tsukemono 101: Your Guide to the Best Pickles!

  • FOOD
  • In or out of Japan, have you ever went to a Japanese restaurant, ordered something from the menu and when you got your food, it was accompanied by something you’re not familiar with? Maybe you’re wondering what they are but not to worry! It’s tsukemono (漬物)!

    Tsukemono are actually a variety of pickled vegetables! You could also call this a side dish. Pickles may have a pungent taste, but this creates a balance with the food that you eat. Tsukemono is not only used in restaurants but is also eaten often at home! Check the list below for some of the popular kinds of Tsukemono!

    Takuan (たくあん)

    Takuan is made from radish. This side dish acquires its color during the fermentation process, which changes it from white to yellow. Takuan is very crunchy and has a salty vinegarish flavor. It is often served with rice, bentos (弁当), or teishoku (定食).

    Fukujinzuke (福神漬け)

    tsukemono fukujinzuke

    Author’s photo

    Fukujinzuke is made differently from takuan, but some ingredients include radish, eggplant, cucumber, renkon, shiitake and many others. Fukujinzuke has a sweet flavor, a red or brown color and is popularly accompanied with curry rice (カレーライス)! Did you know that the kanji for Fukujinzuke means Luck God of Pickles?

    Kyurizuke (きゅうり漬け)


    Kyurizuke is pickled cucumber. It is usually served with don (丼) dishes. Kyurizuke has quite a salty taste and crunchy texture. While you can eat this as a side dish it is also delicious on its own!

    Beni Shoga (紅しょうが)

    Beni shoga may not look like it but it is actually made with sliced ginger! Beni shoga has a zesty, strong flavor that adds a punch to your food. It can often be seen with yakisoba (焼きそば), gyu don(牛丼) or on top of okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)!

    Gari (ガリ)

    Gari is probably familiar tsukemono on this list. Gari is thinly sliced ginger that has a sweet taste, is yellow or pinkish in color and is often served with sushi (寿司) or sashimi (刺身). Eating this when having either of those two foods helps in taking away the fishy taste, so eat up!

    Now are you more familiar with tsukemono? Do you remember how they taste? If you don’t, go buy them at your local supermarket! Or if you have the time, make some of your own and make your meal better!

    Related Articles:
    Enjoy the variety of Japanese pickles
    Colorful Japanese Pickles