Kyoto Vegetable Garden: Kyoto Cucumber Nukazuke

Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け
Say hello to the KyotoFoodie Kyoto vegetable garden! We are trying to grow some authentic, traditional Kyoto vegetables this year.

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
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

New Cucumber
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

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
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

Before: New Cucumber Going into the Nuka for Pickling
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

After: New Cucumber Lightly Pickled
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

Baby Cucumber Nukazuke
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

Baby Cucumber Nukazuke – Sliced
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

Baby Cucumber Nukazuke – Served
Kyoyasai: Garden Grown Cucumber Nukazuke 京野菜ぬか漬け

14 Responses to “Kyoto Vegetable Garden: Kyoto Cucumber Nukazuke”

  1. Arun says:

    I’m not much of a gardener myself, but I really should get into while I’m still young. c: I just don’t like bugs, and don’t like the garden very much. My parents are avid gardeners, I always refuse to help though! Cucumber nukazuke sounds really nice, I can imagine how well the flavours would go together. I remember reading in an earlier article that you can also pickle meat in nuka, have you tried that yet?

  2. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Arun, Well, having a really small garden makes it a lot more manageable! Try a garden just a few square meters in size. I have not done the meat in nuka yet. I am afraid that it will ruin the nuka. I do want to try it sometime though.

  3. Anita says:

    I miss my garden! Here in Tokyo we have no room at all for garden boxes even! So you must keep us updated…enjoying the blog!

  4. Funazushi says:

    We are planting a garden of Kyoto vegetables as well, although you are way ahead of us climate wise. We have planted: mizuna, mibuna, kyo nasu, hinona, kabu, and aka and aoi shiso. I think the squirrels ate the cucumber seeds so we will have to try again. There is certainly nothing like eating your homegrown fresh vegetables.

  5. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Anita, Ah, one of the (many) downsides of Tokyo, no garden space! You have to escape Tokyo!

    Hello Funazushi, You are going full on! If you have squirrels, you must not be in Japan. Where are you growing all this Kyoyasai abroad? We have about the same line-up of veggies, but no hinona — which I think is actually a Shiga traditional veggie. Isn’t hinona and kabu better to plant in the colder season?

  6. Funazushi says:

    Hello Peko Peko, yes I live in Toronto, Canada now, so we have different pests to contend with. My wife was born in Kyoto but raised in Shiga so she put her requests in for some shiga specialities. Our summers have been cooler lately so I’m hoping they will grow well. For anyone interested, I ordered seeds from Kitazawa seed company in California.
    Actually, my wife’s aunt has a farm in Katsura, where she grows kyoyasi for some of the ryotei restaurants in Kyoto. I should try to consult with her next time we visit.

  7. Trisha says:

    You are now my current favourite website. I fell inlove with Japan when I visited last year – and my favourite city was Kyoto! 1 day wasn’t enough to visit Kyoto (only managed to go to 3 temples/shrines/castles!) so definitely returning there soon! Oh and the food? Best best best in the world!

  8. Martin F says:

    Wow, that looks so yummy. Where do you get the nuka from?

  9. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Funazushi, I see. I saw that Kitazawa Seed Co. has a good selection of traditional Japanese veggie seeds. Tell us how your garden comes along. Mine is still being eated by dango mushi — they only eat the sprouts of the greens. They don’t seem to be able to do much damage to squash, cucumber and eggplant.

    Hello Trisha, Your (current) favorite site?!?! Well, thank you! One day is not nearly enough! You have to get back here, until you do, you can catch some glimpses of Kyoto here at KyotoFoodie and at OpenKyoto.

    Hello Martin, Most any rice store that mills rice ought to have nuka. Many liquor stores also sell rice, they often have nuka. Nuka is usually free. Did you see our article on How to Make Nukazuke: Nukadoko Pickling Bed?

  10. olivia says:

    yay! I grew some myself last year – and again this year… not very hard to grow, and the freshness is awesome!

  11. Funazushi says:

    The mibuna and mizuna are growing well and we have been able to eat some already. The Hinona are also growing well but have a ways to go to get to full size. The nasu are growing very slowly so I don’t know if we will have any this year.

    Our nukadoko is up and running and I have put my first batch of cucumbers in today. Looking at your picture of the ice cold beer I know how we’re going to eat them when they are ready.

  12. Banda says:

    First of all thank you so much for this amazing blog! It has been a great inspiration while planning my trip to Kyoto this august and a very welcome diversion while writing a PhD thesis in midsummer Germany. I really appreciate the lovely presentation and honest, well-researched, down-to-earth approach of your blog!

    Regarding Kyoyasai: Is there a good shop in Kyoto you could recommend to buy seeds of typical Kyoto-style vegetables or old fashioned japanese breeds in general (because it doesn´t really make sense for me to shop at Kitazawa)?

  13. We really enjoy reading your posts, i just used this website, as a way of giving away my unused seeds. Anyone know what I can sell them for? I have maybe 100 geranium seeds left.

  14. […] do love spicy food though. I grow my own habanero and jalapeno chili peppers in my little Kyoto garden, smoke them in my little Kyoto kitchen and have developed a layu-type spiced oil recipe made from […]

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