10 May 2009
This is another pickle from Ikuko Hisamatsu's tsukeomono book. Bettara-zuke (べったら漬) is one of the most exciting ferments I've done: it's like nothing I've heretofore done. Daikon radish are peeled and heavily salted. They are pressed until covered in their own brine. They sit like that for a total of three days. They are then re-salted, re-pressed and sit for two-to-three days.
Meanwhile, cooked sweet rice is mixed with koji (as one would to start miso or amazake) and ferments for 20 hours at 140ºF (± 4 hours, basically until it's converted the starch in the rice into sugar). That is allowed to cool. (If you cooked this to stop fermentation and puréed it, you'd have amazake).
While the rice and koji at first seem dry, it comes out very wet after fermentation. Mirin and sugar are added once it has cooled. A small sqaure of kelp is cut into strips and dried chilis or, in this case, chili flakes, are prepped.
A layer of the rice mixture is spread across the bottom of a crock. Here the daikon, in chunks, (well drained and patted dry) is added. Keep layering, sprinkling chili flakes and adding strips of kelp. This is then covered with a small plate and weighted like any brine pickle.
And one-to-two weeks later, it's done (day 10 is shown). The rice seems to pack down and form a gelatinous bed in which the daikon pickle while a sweet brine rises up. No problems with any mold at all, which was impressive. The pickles are mostly sweet, which was a surprise considering the amount of salt used at first. They have a subtle, sweet flavor. Something hard to describe: sweet like a young miso with some of the tang of fresh daikon. It lacks the pungency of other pickled daikon I've tried (like daikon in a nuka bed) and is wonderfully crisp.