Lightly Pickled Turnip

This is a really quick and easy side dish to prepare and leave to pickle while making something else. You’ll never know the true nature of turnip until you draw out its natural flavour by pickling it with salt!

The Japanese turnip is quite a versatile vegetable. If cooked it will become soft to the point of crumbling in your mouth, and eaten raw or half-cooked it has a satisfyingly crunchy texture. Known as either kabu or kabura in Japan, it can be boiled, steamed, fried or baked. And as demonstrated in this recipe, it’s yummy pickled as well!

Tsukemono is the umbrella term for pickled vegetables. This recipe only uses salt for the pickling, making it a shiozuke (salt pickled) type of tsukemono. It would also fit in the asazuke category, which refers to veggies that are only lightly pickled, as opposed to those pickled for days, weeks or even months…

Another famous pickled turnip dish is kabura no senmaidzuke, or “a thousand piece pickled turnip”. The turnip is cut so thin that there appear to be a thousand paper-thin slices. Feel free to give it a try, but watch your fingers!

5 from 1 vote

Lightly Pickled Turnip

Servings 2 people
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 7 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 Japanese turnip
  • 3 cm strip yuzu zest or lemon zest
  • 3×3 cm piece kombu dry or second-use (i.e. kombu that’s already been used to make dashi)
  • ¼ tsp salt


  • 「PREP」If using a piece of kombu that’s already been used once to make dashi, skip this step and proceed to the rest of the recipe.
    If using a dry piece of kombu, first wipe off the powder, then place in a pot of water and heat until just before it boils – don’t let it boil or it will become slimy! You can use the kombu-flavoured water for dashi if you’d like.
    Lightly Pickled Turnip - Preparation
  • Thinly slice the kombu. Cut the stem and leaves off the turnip and chop them into 1cm pieces. Cut the turnip in half lengthwise and thinly slice. Julienne the yuzu (or lemon) zest.
    Lightly Pickled Turnip - Step1
  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or pickle press and mix well. If using a pickle press, put on the weighted or spring-loaded lid; if you don’t have one, just fill another bowl with water or any somewhat heavy object to weigh down the ingredients in the lower bowl.
    Lightly Pickled Turnip - Step2
  • Set aside for an hour or more. It can be made in advance, or while preparing other dishes. And it keeps well, so why not make a little extra for tomorrow!
    Lightly Pickled Turnip - Step4
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Tsukemono, Vegetable

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