What's delicious, crunchy, and lives in a pot of fermented rice-bran?
That's easy—daikon! Or eggplant. Or carrots. Or okra.
In fact any vegetable can be pickled in nukazuke
and it always comes out tasting better than it went in. But let's back up.
Nukazuke is a traditional type of Japanese pickle fermented in a slurry of rice bran and brine. Think of it as a magic cauldron which turns miscellaneous veggies into delicious, crisp pickles.
Handed from friend to friend, nuka cultures, like sourdoughs, are prized for their longevity and regional idiosyncrasies. The pickles served Japanese restaurants are similar, though they are often industrially processed simulations of the real deal and loaded with MSG.
Seasoned with a variety of foods such as garlic, chili, and persimmon, the slurry itself looks like low-budget quicksand and smells like a dragon burp, but the pickles are imparted with a rich spectrum of savory nuances. Umami anyone?
Real nukazuke pickles are hard to come by in the US, though some specialty businesses may carry them seasonally.
Happily, you can make your own. For that we recommend, Sandor Katz's pickling bible, Wild Fermentation, though you haven't really plumbed the possibilities of this pickle until you've read the many blogs on the topic and learned that nuka also ferments adventure. People mix everything from beer to iron-nails into their nuka!
If you do try this at home be prepared for strong aromas and a little diligence; nukazuke requires stirring by hand at least once a day. Just think of it as a pickle-pot pet.