When I was working in Dumbo, I joined the Dumbo CSA. Even though I split my share with another person, it was still difficult to keep up with the sheer amount of vegetables I got every week. I needed a way to boost the longevity of my stock!
Nukazuke was the perfect solution because the pickles take 8 to 12 hours to cure and they’re still a bit crunchy afterward (so you can still cook with them!). It is a Japanese method of pickling with fermented bran, beer and miso, it smells like baking bread. Nota bene! When you start a nuka, it's like a pet. You have to stir it every morning and night. If I knew I wasn't going to be home in time, I would text my roommates to, "Stir the bitch!"—much like Anthony Bourdain’s story of sourdough starter from Kitchen Confidential. In a similar way, you can pass on a cup of nuka to a friend to begin their own crock. When it starts to warm up, it may attract bugs. If you have to leave home for a day or two, store it in the freezer. I've read that some people store theirs completely in the fridge to keep vermin out, but they will take double the time to cure.
Whenever I have company over, I make them try every single pickle or make them a tub of my own version of mixed pickle. In some parts of Asia, namely India, “mixed pickle” is a jar of spicy cured lemon, lime, mango, onion, carrot, cauliflower and fenugreek. Because my nuka pickles or tsukemono are already cured with miso and salted, I just chop them up and cover them with a really buttery olive oil. I highly recommend the Barbera Sicilian evo from Fairway.
|Things you'll need:|
2 pounds oat bran
2 1/2 cups filtered water
3/4 cup Hitachino beer, warm
3/4 cup sea salt
1 bulb of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup white miso
1-inch piece fresh ginger, diced
1 large carrot
2 cups of hearty vegetables, no leaves or soft skins
Start by toasting the oat bran in a dry pan. While that is happening, combine the water, beer and salt in the crock. Once you smell the toastiness of the oat bran, cool it off. Mix it into the crock with the white miso, it should form a sand-like paste.
Slice up the jalapeno and nest it at the bottom of the crock, bury it in the sand with layers of garlic clove and ginger. Make sure none of the vegetables stick out. Wipe down the sides and cover the whole thing with a cheesecloth and store it in a cool, dark place. And then, wait three days (I know! That's the worst part!).
When the nuka is ready, bury chopped up vegetables in it and unearth them in 8 to 12 hours. Swish them around in a cold bowl of water to clean them and that's it, they're ready! Make sure to taste each kind of vegetable, thicker cuts will take longer. When you take the vegetables out every morning, give the crock a good stir and wipe the edges down so you don't promote mold growth on the sides.
I always like to include a jalapeno and a few garlic cloves in each batch because they will naturally keep the sand clean. Plus, the miso-cured jalapeno kinda tastes like nachos!
A word about my ba-donk a donk carrots! At the Dumbo CSA, you walk along the bins and pick out the vegetables that you want. When I saw this pair of gams, I had to grab them. You can’t just chop these up and throw them in a stew (are you CRAZY?). These are a pair of CARROT LEGS! I wanted them around in my kitchen for as long as possible to show people when they came by, “Look, look at these little stumps! No, we’re not eating them…”
When I was a kid, I did this odd thing with a pack of Sweet Tarts. I loved the blue ones and would hide them in my Barbie jewelry box for a time when I’d had harvested enough to have an all blue Sweet Tart party with myself. Alas, the insecure packaging made them disgustingly chewy. Thus proving the Vanessa Williams song wrong: No, you shall not save the best for last. These carrots were getting a little cellulite with every passing day and I had to do something.
The whole carrot bathed in the nuka for 12 hours and rinsed it in cold water to wash off the sediment. Because it is such a special carrot, I had to prepare it in a different ways. I split the legs down the middle for a chorus line of Daucus carota. One pair danced into the oven with olive oil until the edges were a little brown. With so much salt and miso in the cure, there was no need to season or sauce.
Alternate blog post titles considered:
- My carrot’s too bootylicious for ya, babe
- She had carrot-dumps like a truck truck truck / Thighs like what what what
- Fat bottomed carrots make the rockin’ world go ‘round
- Dance! Too much carrot in the pants
- OMG Becky, look at her carrot
- All you brothas want a carrot girl,carrot girl, carrot girl (who, me?)
- Hoe, who is you playin wit? Back that carrot up
Love this? It's part of a romantic Spanish vegetarian menu.
Have you ever tried nukazuke? What is your favorite kind of pickle? I want to know! Tweet me @Randwiches.