Marinated in dashi-infused vinegar, these Japanese-style Pickled Tomatoes make a refreshing side or appetizer to serve with your meal!
Before the summer ends, I wanted to share one more recipe – Japanese-style Pickled Tomatoes (トマトの酢漬け). I was inspired to make this recipe after watching the popular Japanese TV drama – Kodoku no Gurume (孤独のグルメ) [Season 6, Episode 2]. The protagonist had the pickled tomatoes as a part of Pan Fried Ginger Pork Belly lunch meal set. It looked really refreshing and I had to come up with something similar.
For those of you who are not familiar with Kodoku no Gurume, the main character Gorō is a Japanese salaryman who is in sales. As a salesman, Gorō travels across Japan for his work and on each business trip he visits various restaurants and street booths to sample the local cuisine. Each chapter features a different place and dish.
This TV drama has been around for years in Japan, and currently Season 7 is on air. Unfortunately, it is not available on Netflix like Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories here in the States, but it’s available on Netflix Japan and other sources. Maybe Netflix USA will pick it up if there’s enough interest for the drama.
Whether you have access to Kodoku no Gurume or not, I want to share all the delicious foods the main character Goro-san enjoyed in the show and I hope you would join me in cooking up these dishes.
Japanese-Styled Pickled Tomatoes
In Japanese, when the whole tomatoes are marinated in vinegar, they are called Tomato no Suzuke (トマトの酢漬け). But what makes it “Japanese-style”? Here are the two things that distinguish the Japanese Pickled Tomatoes from other kinds of pickled tomatoes you may be familiar with:
1. The use of dashi and soy sauce
Oftentimes, the vinegar marinade for Japanese pickled tomatoes is not just vinegar, but it also includes soy sauce and dashi – Japanese stock/broth. If you want to make this into vegetarian/vegan, you can use Kombu Dashi, otherwise, you can make it with the most common Awase Dashi made with both kombu and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).
2. The tomatoes are pickled without the skins
For this recipe, tomato skins for the Pickled Tomatoes are usually peeled off. When you bite into tomatoes, the texture is considered better without the skin on. It’s up to you if you want to do this extra step, but maybe give both choices a try and let me know if you like the skins peeled or not peeled.
The Easiest Way to Peel Off the Tomato Skins
There are several ways to peel off the tomato skins: blanch, scorch, microwave, or freeze the tomatoes. Among them, I think the easiest and safest method is blanching.
You would prepare a pot of boiling water. Gently submerge the tomato(es) in the boiling water for 10-15 seconds turning once. Then immediately transfer to the iced water. Then the skin will be peeled off easily.
If you have picked up some juicy, fresh red tomatoes from your garden or the farmers market, the Japanese-style Pickled Tomatoes is definitely a fun and unique way to put them to good use.
JOC Kodoku no Gurume Recipes Series
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 2 tomatoes
- ½ onion (for garnish, optional)
- parsley (for garnish, optional)
- Gather all the ingredients. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Prepare a large jar or container that can fit your tomatoes. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade (½ cup dashi, 1 cup rice vinegar, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp kosher salt).
- Using a knife, score an X on the tomato skin and place gently into the boiling water.
- Blanch for 10-15 seconds, flip the tomatoes once halfway through. Transfer the tomatoes from the pot to the cutting board.
- You can dunk them in cold water for 10 seconds or let it cool enough to touch. Gently peel the skin using fingers. Discard the skin.
- Place the tomatoes in the marinades and put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours until completely chilled or keep for up to 3-5 days.
- If you like to serve the tomatoes with onion, mince ½ onion. You will need 2-3 Tbsp minced onion per tomato. Use whatever left for other cooking.
- Put the minced onion in a bowl and soak in water to remove the bitterness. Squeeze water out and ready to serve on top of the tomatoes.
- Cut the tomatoes into ½ inch slices and garnish with minced onion and parsley (if you have any).