Pickled Turnip with Yuzu

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Pickled Turnip with Yuzu | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

I had received several requests from some of the readers that they would like to make Tsukemono, Japanese pickles.  In Japan, Tsukemono is always served with steamed rice, and considered as an important garnish or accompaniment for meals.  There are even Tsukemono specialty stores in Japan, where we can buy all different types and varieties.

Pickled Turnip with Yuzu | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Although we call it “pickles”, Japanese pickles are actually considered “preserved vegetables”.  Unlike how American pickles are prepared, Tsukemono is not pickled in distilled vinegar.  For pickling the Japanese way, we use salt, soy sauce, miso, rice bran (nuka), or sake lees (sake kasu).

Today I’m sharing Asazuke, a type of TsukemonoAsazuke literary means ‘shallow pickling’ for its short period of pickling time.  Asazuke is commonly prepared at home because it’s easier and simple to make as opposed to Tsukemono, which takes more effort to prepare and longer waiting period.

I used Tokyo turnips called kabu as the main vegetable, but other commonly used vegetables for Tsukemono include cucumbers, daikon (Japanese radish), napa cabbage, and eggplant.  This recipe calls for yuzu, a citrus fruit widely available in Japan, Korea, and China.  If you cannot find yuzu in your area, you can substitute with lemon zest/juice for this recipe.  There are quite a lot of Japanese dishes with yuzu flavor and one of our favorite Japanese restaurant use it on a few of the special sushi they serve.  I hope you enjoy making this version of Asazuke at home!

Pickled Turnip with Yuzu | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

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Pickled Turnip with Yuzu
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 3 Tokyo Turnips (kabu), roots, stem, and leaves (or you can use cucumbers, daikon (Japanese radish), napa cabbage, and eggplant)
  • 1 (1.5 inch x 1.5 inch) square kombu (kelp)
  • ½ of a red chili pepper
  • 1 tsp. yuzu zest or freezer dried yuzu (see photo below)
  • ½ - 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. yuzu juice/yuzu extract, or lemon (optional)
  1. Wash turnips carefully and separate roots and stem/leaves. Peel the skin of roots and cut in half or quarters. Slice thinly. For stem/leaves, cut into ½ inch pieces.
  2. Cut kombu into small strips.
  3. Cut red chili pepper into half and remove seeds. Keep the seeds if you like it spicy.
  4. In a Ziploc bag, add turnip roots, stem/leaves, kombu, red chili pepper, yuzu zest, salt (and yuzu juice/extract). Mix and rub with hands well.
  5. Remove air and keep in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably 3-4 hours, or even overnight before serving.
  6. When you serve, drain any excess liquid by squeezing the vegetables with both hands.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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  1. I love these Pickled Turnip with Yuzu! What a mouth-watering and refreshing recipe. My kids and I always enjoy the Asazuke served at Japanese restaurant. It’s good to know they are so easy to make. You know what I’ll be making this weekend. 😉 Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I’m going to hunt down some kabu and freeze dried yuzu! Hope the Japanese market in my area carries them.

  2. I love yuzu, I wish that I could find it here, I have a Japanese friends with a plant, but I am not sure she gets enough to share so I wouldn’t ask. And I love tsukemono too, so I may try without yuzu.



  3. Looks simple enough, but light and delicious. I heard Japanese people eat more pickles during the winter…is that true? I think that used to be true in Korea, because of poverty and winter weather.

    • Sophia, I think it is true back then, when people didn’t have many things to eat during winter time. But modern times, we eat them pretty much all year around. I’m sure there are seasonal pickles though, because of certain veggies being in season. :-)

  4. This looks very light and refreshing and I’m sure what everyone in my house needs right about now. Your knife skills amaze me, your slices are always so thin, and I wish I could have you take my pictures.

  5. Hi Nami!

    This looks wonderful. I love pickled food (the vinegar version) but I can imagine that I would enjoy indulging turnips pickled with soy sauce, salt, miso, sake and rice bran. I am exploding in front of the screen, I so badly want that now.

  6. I want to make these pickles Nami. I like spicy so I will add the whole pepper. I am so glad that you shared this. They are a bit like kimchee aren’t they? Have a wonderful day.

  7. I love pickles… But I have to say most of the Indian pickles take long time to make….
    This looks so fresh and easy… Turnips are only my favorite in my house, my hubby is not big fan.
    But I will make this and lets see what he says…. I am sure he will like this as this look so fresh.

  8. Stunning pickled turnips. I am trying to digest all the new and unique ingredients you mentioned. I would love to try them all in this dish. Isn’t the USA great when you can get food ingredients that are from your home country. I always get excited when I can find things at my Asian Market from my side of the world. I love how you keep your Japanese traditions alive for your family. Well done. :)

  9. Ah, Nami – I love tsukemono! I always have to order 3 plates of it when I go to this udon noodle bar in Paris. Sitting and eating these with some cold Asahi before the noodles is so much fun, but I’m really, really surprised – I’ve had these before, and I really thought this specific one was made with daikon – lol! I had no idea it was actually turnip 😀 Nice to learn a new thing today. No wonder mine turned out so badly when I tried to make it! If you post recipes for pickled cucumber versions next I will be so pleased!

    I have a question though, and please forgive me if I spell it incorrectly, because if I remember correctly, if I put one letter wrong in this word it means something a bit more rude, so I apologise if I spell it wrong, but what is the difference between tsukemono and “oshinko”?

  10. I love to serve little jewels like this with a meal. It adds another layer in texture and flavor. I do a quick pickled cucumber quite often so your pickled turnips sound really interesting to me. As with all of your dishes, it looks absolutely delicious and I’m sure it tastes wonderful! I’m not sure it I know the flavor of yuzu, but one more item for my list to the Asian market!

  11. Hi Nami – I am definitely making this. I do a lot of pickling, but have not tried this type. I like the idea that it is “other than vinegar.” You always have such neat dishes and methods.
    Guess what? I am posting something with yuzu today too! Working on it right now.

  12. Aah, Nami – most of your recipes seem to be after my own heart. ^^ I love Japanese pickles so much – they’re so good with just some plain rice (okay, some furikake too). hehe

  13. Ohh nice recipe Nami :)

    I’ve always liked the persevered vegetable dishes, the Japanese have with their rice ~ they are always so refreshing to me. And i immediately feel lighter and healthier when I eat them ~

    Really hope I’d be able to find all the ingredients in Melbourne~

  14. Tsukemono is one of the things I miss most living here in the Rocky Mountain region. I loved the Tsukemono shops in japan!! Even in California, they were easy to find. I am excited to try this easy recipe for Asazuke! I will have to substitute lemon. We do have daikon and of course, cucumber here, but no japanese turnip.
    It sounds delightful.Thanks again Nami for all your great inspiration.

  15. So simple & refreshing! I wonder if kabu tastes different from our turnips (which I don’t really care for) – I’ll have to go to the Japanese market, so I can find out :) I love all your recipes, Nami – and my daughter is going to be studying in Japan at Tsuru University from July to December; she is so excited!

  16. I don’t think I have tried this in any Japanese restaurants I have been to? Maybe I have been going to the wrong Jap. eateries :O I try to avoid cold/chilled dishes during winter as I already feel too cold. For the Chinese, we classify two body systems – the “yang” (heaty) and “yin” (cooling) – I believe with a “yin” body system, I need more warm food.

    Thanks for sharing the yuzu zest photos. For people who don’t read Japanese, it sure helps when we shop in Jap. grocery stores. 😀 Thank you so much.

    • There are many kinds of Tsukemono, you might be familiar with purple color cucumber or white/yellow daikon? It usually comes with bento box.

      Yes, I’m aware of yang and yin. My father in law is a doctor and he gave me a lecture about it with with a chart. =D It’s quite helpful to know what is good for the body. I love cold drinks but he always tells me to drink warm or lukewarm temp drink…which I find it difficult because Taiwan is hot… =P

  17. Nami, I have never asked you for pickles recipes, but I should have! I have been meaning to start making Japanese pickles for such a long time.
    The pickled turnips look so appetising and so easy to make! I don’t know if I can find yuzu zest here (I have at least the juice!), but I have already bookmarked this extraordinary recipe and will try it soon! Thank you!

  18. my friend, you never cease to amaze me! This dish could not look any better and more delicious if you tried. I love it and your creativity is just inspirational! Sorry I have been gone this week. Been crazy but I am back now!

  19. Pickled turnips! Oishiisou! I bet these would go great with a bowl of rice with an onsen tamago cracked on top. 😀 I’m drooling at the thought. *wipes drool* it’s too bad I’m not staying at any ryokans when I next visit Japan so I’ll have to look for these pickles myself somewhere….or make them when I go back to Melbourne. :)

  20. アメリカの方にも漬物が浸透してるって、不思議。でも確かにどのレストランでもサーブされるし、サラダ感覚で食べられる浅漬けなら、簡単で美味しいし、何よりヘルシー!ゆずが香ってこれまた美味しそうです!

  21. I absolutely love Japanese food!My whole family does.I’ve tried pickled turnip which was absolutely delicious in a Korean place.Are these similar in taste?Looks yumm!

  22. Hey Nami! This looks like a great side dish. I love pickled food, but never tried pickling turnips before. I actually recently came across yuzu and I have to say I love the flavour of it!

  23. I think I am becoming addicted to your blog Nami :) Japanese food is one of my favorites and I love learning about it. These pickled turnips look amazing. Pickles in vinegar are over rated, in my opinion. Have a great weekend!

  24. I was just moaning about how you cannot get/find/steal yuzu in Minnesota. Th only yuzu I have had has been as marmalade! This looks so wonderful – love the pickling and a great way to use the winter turnip. Now about that yuzu…

  25. Ira Rodrigues

    hmm, this is interesting recipe nami. pickles is my favorite nibble :)
    anyway, i almost fainted when i read the ingredients mentioned kelp as it end up in the dustbin the other day because i have no idea how to use it :( gosh…
    can i skip it or there is any substitute i could know from your side?
    * your chop stick rest always looks cute!

  26. I’ve never had a pickled turnip before.. but I must say it definitely looks delicious and wonderful. I really need to get into more pickled veggies, because yours came out great

  27. I enjoy japanese pickles a lot….! Whenever I buy bento boxes from my favourite sushi chain restaurant in Frankfurt, there are usually small portions of pickles included. My favourite so far is something that looks like cucumber slices but they are dark pink in colour. The texture is crunchy and the flavour is slightly sweet and sour – do you know what it’s called? I’ve never had pickled turnip, but this looks very refreshing and great too for a side dish :)!

  28. You’ve just made me so happy. I’m a super nerd. I love farming games and I’m addicted to one on my DS called Harvest Moon. My character is always making pickled turnips! Now I can make them in real life too :)

  29. I love pickled vegetables and how interesting to learn the Japanese method which you’re quite right, is different from our vinegar style. I would have never guessed that this beautiful dish featured turnip – lol – it looks absolutely delicious Nami. I would have fun experimenting with carrot, cucumber and zucchini. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Allen

    When I lived in Hawaii, I became very fond of pickled vegetables. Thank you for sharing this post! I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. If you would like to nominate the blogs/bloggers you follow, please see my post “The Versatile Blogger”.
    I look forward to your future posts! Allen.

  31. sab

    Hi Nami!

    I just got back from a trip to Hokkaido and I am eager to try new Japanese recipes and chanced upon your website :) I am happily printing the recipes to try them this week.

    I tried these amazing pickled whole okra in Hokkaido and I have been looking all over the web for them and I was wondering whether you happen to know how I can pickle the okra?


    • Hi Sab! I love Hokkaido, and I’m sure you had a fabulous time there. Thank you for finding my blog. :-) There are many ways to make pickles in Japan. I share 2 of my simple recipes.

      1) blanched okra, salt, grated ginger, soy sauce
      2) blanched okra, salt, yuzu zest, red chili pepper, (kombucha)
      3) blanched okra, mentsuyu, grated ginger, red chili pepper

      Put all ingredients in airtight bag overnight. I’m not sure what flavor your okra had, but hope this helps. :-)