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 (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.
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