Senmai-zuke (thousand-sliced pickles) (千枚漬け)

Senmai-zuke which is marketed in supermarkets are traditional pickles in Kyoto and are produced by marinating paper-thin slices of turnips with pieces of konbu (kelp), red peppers and vinegar.

Usually, shogoin-kabu (turnip) of kyo-yasai (Kyoto vegetables) is used for the production of senmai-zuke. A turnip is cut into a thousand or more slices and pickled in a barrel. The name senmai-zuke is thought to have originated in cutting a turnip into extremely thin slices resulting in a thousand. There were originally shogoin-kabu pickles produced by pickling in salt to ferment lactobacillus, and Tozaburo DAIKOKUYA and an imperial palace cook developed senmai-zuke in 1865 using the shogoin-kabu pickles.

The steps to produce senmai-zuke is to sprinkle salt over the sliced shogoin-kabu, let it stand and then remove the excess water and then, pickle them only with good quality konbu until it ferments lactobacillus. Senmai-zuke requires a particularly well-balanced combination of original sweetness from shogoin-kabu, sourness from fermented lactobacillus, and the delicious flavor of konbu. After World War II, sugar, vinegar, and seasonings were used for the first time to produce the current type of senmai-zuke.

The production of senmai-zuke is done from November to March, Shogoin-kabu is grown and harvested and the sale of this pickle is only available during the this period being a seasonal pickle. Senmai-zuke is a typical winter pickle in Kyoto regarded as one of the three famous Kyoto pickles including suguki (vinegar vegetable pickles seller of these pickles) and shiba-zuke (perilla pickles with eggplant), and is popular as basic or stable souvenirs in Kyoto.

Senmai-zuke in TV Drama
NHK serial TV drama 'Kyo futari' (two persons in Kyoto) was based on pickles shops in Kyoto.

To produce this drama, since there was no particular pickle shop considered as a model, the Kyoto Tsukemono Federation (京都府漬物協同組合) was involved to work as a contact and to gather various information from pickle shops in Kyoto.

[Original Japanese]