Tsukemono: Kiku Kabura (Chrysanthemum Turnip)

Autumn is chrysanthemum season in Japan and the flower which has literally countless form, shape and color variations makes numerous appearances in Japanese cuisine, both as decoration and as symbol.

This meibutsu tsukmono is from Kamekura a shinise in Kameoka, a small and quaint town west of Kyoto. Kamekura is perhaps best known for its senmaizuke, a Kyoto winter favorite and favorite omiyage for visitors to the ancient capital.

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Chrysanthemum Turnip Tsukemono Package

Kiku Kabura (Chrysanthemum Turnip) from Kamekura  亀蔵の菊かぶら
The white flesh of the turnip is meticulously cut to simulate the thin petals of a chrysanthemum flower and naturally dyed yellow with gardenia seeds, called kuchinashi in Japanese. The greens of the turnip are used as the leaves of the chrysanthemum. These are both pickled in a sweet brine. I was surprised at the sweetness of this pickle, but some tsukemono can be quite sweet, especially in Kyoto.

How to Eat
Like all tsukemono, this goes especially well with rice and generally as a side dish to the whole meal. Drinkers may enjoy tsukemono with beer, sake, shochu, wine, etc. However, tsukemono that goes well with drink is usually saltier than sweeter.

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Chrysanthemum Turnip Tsukemono

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Kabura Turnip Starts Out Looking Like This

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Chrysanthemum: Not quite the right variety, but I will keep looking for the right flower.

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Chrysanthemum Turnip Tsukemono - detail

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Chrysanthemum Turnip Tsukemono - 'Bottom' of the Turnip

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Chrysanthemum Turnip Tsukemono - 'Top' of the Turnip

Kiku Kabura Tsukemono (Chrysanthemum Turnip) 菊かぶら

Chrysanthemum Turnip Tsukemono - Served

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11 Responses to “Tsukemono: Kiku Kabura (Chrysanthemum Turnip)”

  1. Arun says:

    That is absolutely beautiful! I can’t imagine how long the meticulous detailing would take. It would be a gorgeous gift, I wouldn’t eat it, I’d stick it in a clear jar of vinegar!

  2. Arun says:

    Also, I love the new website design! <3

  3. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Arun, It is indeed very beautifully articulated. Each one would require hundreds of cuts so I am guessing that they have some kind of press that can do the cutting in one step. It is something for the museum shelf, isn’t it!

    I still have to reformat our articles to fit the new design and squash a few bugs, so please bear with us! Thanks.

  4. TK says:

    That looks gorgeous!

  5. Kathryn Hill says:

    At first I thought it was a flower but as I read it I figured out it’s a turnip cut to look like a flower!

  6. Anita says:

    Gorgeous� Never would have guessed it was a turnip either� I am always amazed at the meticulous work the Japanese do to make seemingly mundane things special.

  7. Oanh says:

    The turnip is too beautiful to eat. This is my first time seeing such a product. I haven’t seen anything like this in the big Asian super markets in America yet.

  8. Meg says:

    It’s so pretty! I have two cookbooks with instructions on how to make them, but have never tried. I’m pretty sure I would slice it in half by mistake… and that would be depressing.
    I agree with Arun, the website looks nice!

  9. This is too cool and is really a work of art.

  10. Amato says:

    I am so fascinated by this tsukemono, I’ll come back for about 3 weeks again and again to look at it.
    I have tried to make something “similar” at home – of course great disaster. (didn’t take pictures- don’t be afraid ;-) )
    I have a recipe for kiku-tsukemono from Japanese web, for those little white “flowers”,( do you know what I mean?) this also works well. But this tsukemono – this is pure art.
    I’ve been more a silent reader of your blog, I’m from Germany and a great admirer of Japanese culture (especially wagashi).
    I like your blog very much, thank you for all the knowledge and the detailed information you provide. I appreciate it very much. (I could buy few books about Kyoto and wouldn’t have the information and feeling like here.)

    Best Regards

    Amato
    (Sorry about my English, need to improve a lot)

  11. asiansupper says:

    are they often found in different colors (besides yellow)?

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