Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け
Kyoyasai, or Kyoto vegetables have a unique history going back hundreds of years. Osaka, Nara, Shiga and Kanazawa have their own traditional vegetables as well. They are all enjoying a resurgence of interest in recent years. In Kyoto there are some trendy Italian restaurants that only use Kyoyasai now. Even Kyoto Prefecture now has a registered Kyoyasai brand and farmers can display the trademark on their packaged products if they have adhered to the rigid standards required for authenticity.
KyotoFoodie Kyoyasai Vegetable Garden
I am a country boy and at my home in Minnesota I used to help my family with several gardens every year. In primary school I often helped my mother with pickling and canning. Since I came to Japan, I have not had a chance to grow vegetables in my own garden though.
This spring I cleared out some bushes in my modest, back garden and made a small plot to try my hand at growing some Kyoyasai. I started out with some greens; mibuna and mizuna but they were infested by caterpillars without my noticing and mowed down to nothing overnight. Being averse to chemicals, I got my trusty blow torch and sent them all off to meet their maker. After the incineration, I turned the soil and replanted the plot with some hardier veggies: pepper and eggplant. Mizuna and mibuna I am going to try again in the fall when the weather cools down and the bugs are less active.
Despite the carnage upon my greens, today I harvested my first baby cucumbers and made them into nukazuke. I only pickled them for about 12 hours, and for baby veggies, that amount of time was just right.
I enjoyed them with some beer last night while thinking about all the summer yummies I will, hopefully, be harvesting from the Kyoyasai garden.
We will be updating the progress of the garden and the taste of the Kyoyasai. There are several varieties each of kabocha squash, eggplant and peppers as well as cucumbers and cucumber-like gourds, called uri. Stay tuned!
New Cucumber – detail
Before: New Cucumber Going into the Nuka for Pickling
After: New Cucumber Lightly Pickled
Baby Cucumber Nukazuke
Baby Cucumber Nukazuke – Sliced
Baby Cucumber Nukazuke – Served