Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond

Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond

4.5 2
by Karen Solomon

View All Available Formats & Editions

From authentic Korean kimchi, Indian chutney, and Japanese tsukemono to innovative combinations ranging from mild to delightfully spicy, the time-honored traditions of Asian pickling are made simple and accessible in this DIY guide.

Asian Pickles introduces the unique ingredients and techniques used in Asian pickle-making, including a vast array of


From authentic Korean kimchi, Indian chutney, and Japanese tsukemono to innovative combinations ranging from mild to delightfully spicy, the time-honored traditions of Asian pickling are made simple and accessible in this DIY guide.

Asian Pickles introduces the unique ingredients and techniques used in Asian pickle-making, including a vast array of quick pickles for the novice pickler, and numerous techniques that take more adventurous cooks beyond the basic brine. With fail-proof instructions, a selection of helpful resources, and more than seventy-five of the most sought-after pickle recipes from the East—Korean Whole Leaf Cabbage Kimchi, Japanese Umeboshi, Chinese Preserved Vegetable, Indian Coconut-Cilantro Chutney, Vietnamese Daikon and Carrot Pickle, and more—Asian Pickles is your passport to explore this region’s preserving possibilities.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“I love this book! Karen Solomon has spent years exploring the remarkably varied pickling styles of Asia. This is among the very best books I’ve encountered on pickling, and it goes beyond pickling itself with recipes for foods used in or served with pickles. Karen’s descriptions of technique are clear and crisp, and her personal tone made me feel as if she were whispering encouragement in my ear.”
-Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation

“In this culinary passport to Asia, Karen Solomon helps you discover the delicate flavors and complex spices of pickles you didn’t know existed. A delicious roadmap for pickle lovers everywhere!”
-Lauryn Chun, author of The Kimchi Cookbook

“With this book, Karen Solomon has forever updated the American pickle canon. Featuring both truly traditional Asian pickles and her varied and inspiring adaptations, it is required reading for all home preservers.” 
-Marisa McClellan, creator of Food In Jars

Library Journal
Food writer Solomon (Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It) here combines her previously published Asian Pickles ebooks in a single print volume. In five chapters ("Japan," "Korea," "China," "India," "Southeast Asia"), the author covers a range of global preserving techniques that will acquaint readers with some very strong flavors (e.g., fish sauce, anchovy paste, tamarind paste). Unlike those that are canned for long-term storage, these pickles (e.g., preserved mustard greens, paneer-stuffed pickled chiles) are quick to prepare and meant mostly to be consumed within a few weeks. VERDICT Recommended for adventurous picklers looking to explore bold flavor combinations.

Product Details

Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt


My dear fellow pickling aficionados, given the choice of any global cuisine for nearly any meal of the day, my tastes and preferences will always point East. My meals include stir-fries, broths zupped up by preserved lemon or ginger, noodles of every imaginable type, savory pancakes, rice porridge, and, of course, several bowls of good ol’ Nishiki or jasmine steamed rice. My favorite brunch item ever is served at Namu Gaji in San Francisco: two sous vide eggs bobbing in an outstanding bowl of homemade dashi, served alongside rice, fried oysters, and house-made kimchi. That soothing, salty, full-flavored and fermented feast is what I crave.

Despite the fact that my first two cookbooks are always shelved with the jam making and canning books, I am a fan of kitchen tinkering of all stripes. I live for drying, salting, curing, marinating, and brining. I am simply fascinated by the meditative practice of taking a foodstuff and transforming it with little more than salt or sugar, heat or moisture, time and magical bacteria.

Enter the humble pickle. Although I love all of my kitchen creations the way a mother hen loves her flock, pickles have truly captured my heart (and my stomach!). I swear, I could live on little more than hot rice and cold pickles, provided they are crisp, flavorful, pungent, and bright. It is only natural that, with so many Asian flavors spilling from my dinner bowl plus so many years of traveling to Asia and living there for a spell, my interest would turn to pickles of the Asian continent. Although many of these pickles have clear and immediate appeal—after all, who doesn’t love fresh vegetables dunked in a bath of vinegar and sugar?—it is the ones that have the most challenging flavors that I find the most pleasurable and rewarding. (I’m looking at you, pickled squid, nukazuke, and achar!) Naturally, after tinkering in my own kitchen trying my hand at pickling in rice bran, soy sauce, citrus juices, and fish sauce, I set out to buy a cookbook that could teach me deeply about Asian pickles. While I found a few great books on pickles of individual countries, I did not find the pan-Asian pickling experience in recipe form, equipped with descriptions of ingredients and unfamiliar techniques, that I had a yen for. It was clear that I was going to have to write it instead.

So how did I set about on this global task? By stuffing my brain and my mouth full of every flavor of each country represented as much as possible. I set out on an epic research project: relying not just on personal experience from my own travels, but also other cookbooks, countless blogs, San Francisco’s manifold authentic eateries and supermarkets, and friends, friend’s mothers, and grandmothers. I also pestered chefs and as many people working in the trenches as I could—literally strangers who were experts at the craft and working behind deli cases, ringing cash registers, and waiting tables—to share their techniques, ingredients, and tips. And, of course, as any cookbook author will tell you, there is also nothing that can replace good ol’ trial and error. The kitchen-as-laboratory is always the best place to learn hands on (and fail a lot! Yes!).

There were a few ground rules that I’ve put into place as I set out to write for a (primarily) North American audience. It is my rule of thumb to always provide DIY alternatives to special equipment. Believe me, I would not ask you to buy a single extra piece of kitchen gear that was not absolutely necessary. I am a big evangelist for the idea that you should be free and able to make pickles—particularly Asian pickles—with all of the pots and pans that are already in your cupboard.

This same idea holds true for ingredients. I solemnly swear never to ask you to track down difficult-to-source ingredients unless they will truly make or break a dish. And if there is a suitable substitute, I always make a note of it in the recipe. I’ve also tried, whenever possible, to ensure that there is a place to purchase obscure items online; if not, I haven’t included it in the recipes here, no matter how authentic it may be. (I’ve included those helpful URLs when applicable.) Authenticity is nothing if a pickle’s components aren’t accessible.

The other utilitarian aspect to all of this pickle passion is that I have included many ideas for how to use your pickles in daily cooking. What good is a fridge full of jars that never get opened? After all, the whole idea of pickles is that you have preserved food standing by to craft a fast, delicious, and (most often) healthy meal. While some of these recipes produce fiercely sour, spicy, or sweet morsels designed to be dainty little palate cleansers to complement a main dish, others bask in the spotlight when tossed with meat, seafood, or tofu in a wok or bubbled into a broth with noodles. Plenty of others make for a vegetable side dish that’s ready to serve by the large bowlful, or a meaningful sandwich accessory. I also include a recipe for congee (also commonly called jook),  a satisfying rice porridge that’s the pickle’s best backdrop for a satisfying meal. 

Some other notes before moving forward: You like canning, right? So do I. But you will notice that most of these recipes are not designed for long-term shelf storage. (Warning: Your refrigerator shelf may get crowded.) Fans of both fermented and brined pickles will not be disappointed; there are plenty of both represented here as is the custom of the Asian continent. One thing for certain: you will not be bored. There are many techniques and ingredients within that are likely new to you, and pickling beds and substrates that are, in large part, new frontiers for the Western fan of kosher dills and bread-‑and‑butter pickles.

If I’ve done my job correctly, you will become as enchanted with Asian pickles as I am. And your refrigerator will soon be busting at the seams with a crisp, colorful, and invigorating pickle feast.
Happy pickling!


This is not tangy-sweet, pink gari (as made in the recipe on page 19), the sushi roll’s faithful companion. It’s a different way to preserve fresh ginger and to vamp it up with the powerful color and flavor of red umezu (see page 191). On the Japanese table, a little pinch of this pickle is ubiquitous alongside stir-fried noodles, fried pork, or hearty beef and onion stews atop rice—in short, any heavy food that needs a little brightening and lightening from a pungent, presenceful pickle. A little goes a long way: this small jar is a mighty flavor giant that will last nearly indefinitely. 

Red Pickled Ginger 
(Beni Shoga)
• Time: about 1 week • Makes about 1 cup •
1 pound fresh ginger
1 ⁄4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
½ to 3⁄4 cup red umezu, homemade (page 16) or store‑bought

Peel the ginger (use the edge of a spoon—it’s much easier) and chop it coarsely into 1-inch chunks. Working in batches, put the ginger in a food processor fitted with the metal blade (filling no more than halfway) and pulse until it’s about the size of lentils. Transfer the ginger to a large nonreactive bowl. Add the sugar and salt and mix thoroughly to combine, then cover with a drop lid (see page 29), and weight with a 1-pound weight. Allow the ginger to sit at least 4 hours (leaving it overnight is fine). 

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Drain the liquid from the ginger (there should be a good amount) and squeeze the ginger very firmly to get out as much liquid as possible. (Feel free to save this juice to use as a flavoring agent in other foods, or as a drink with more sugar and sparkling water.) 
Transfer the ginger to a nonstick baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread it in a single layer and place in the oven; prop the door slightly open with a wooden spoon left in the door. Allow the ginger to dry for 2 to 3 hours, stirring every hour, until it’s dry to the touch.

Pack the ginger into a 1/2-pint jar and pour enough umezu over it to cover it completely. Cover, and allow it to sit on the countertop for about 3 hours, then top off with more umezu as necessary to keep the liquid level above the ginger. Let the ginger sit, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours, then move it to the refrigerator. The pickled ginger will be ready to eat in about a week, and, kept refrigerated with a tight lid, it will keep for at least a year.

Meet the Author

KAREN SOLOMON is the author of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It; Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It, and the Asian Pickles e-cookbook series. She is a contributing author to Chow! San Francisco Bay Area and a former contributing editor to Zagat Survey: San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants. Her edible musings on the restaurant scene, sustainable food programs, culinary trends, food history, and recipe development have appeared in Fine Cooking,, Prevention, Yoga Journal, Pastry & Baking, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. Visit

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
LindaTownsend More than 1 year ago
ASIAN PICKLES: SWEET, SOUR, SALTY, CURED, AND FERMENTED PRESERVES FROM KOREA, JAPAN, CHINA, INDIA, AND BEYOND by Karen Solomon is much more than a cookbook as there's much trivia included and humor too! It's a very enjoyable read! A few months ago, my boss shared some yellow squash and zucchini from his garden that he had pickled. They were too delicious for words! I resolved right there and then to delve into pickling myself and was thrilled to find this book offered for review at Net Galley. I've now read it and tried some of the recipes and am HOOKED!  First, I'm thrilled to share that the recipes include NO preservatives, artificial colors or flavorings, and other nasties. The book is segregated by geographical area: Japan, Korea, China, India and Southeast Asia. Each area includes an introduction where the author describes her experience and thoughts on the pickling offerings there along with basic regional styles and preparation and serving tips. One example of valuable tips is in working with garlic where the author shares how to best peel it via an online video and how to remove garlic smell from your hands utilizing a piece of metal. Neither were tips I'd ever heard previously! Another great tip was how to crack cardamom pods to make cardamom tea. AND still another that I found useful was how to shave fresh coconut. Pickling has a long history. The author relates that in 1970, a two-thousand-year-old tomb of a woman buried in her kitchen during the Han dynasty was uncovered in a fascinating archaeological find. The tomb contained dozens of ingredients, cooking tools, and cooking instructions - and PICKLES aplenty in crocks. The author answered another question for me: The difference between a pickle and a chutney... It was funny, I had been asked that same question just a week before I read the book and was happy to share the answer with my friend who had asked. If you are also curious, a pickle implies that the preserve has to sit for a long period, either to ferment or simply to meld flavors and/or textures. In contrast, a chutney is often made fresh to be eaten straight away. Pickles tend to store longer while some chutney recipes don't keep for more than a day or two. I'd also like to share some of the recipes offered that I've either tried or am going to try soon! The ones I've tried have all been very simple, easy to follow and relatively quick. Please know that I don't care for heat in my recipes... there's plenty of recipes with heat in this book, but there's also a good selection without heat. I LOVED her recipe for Sweet Mango Pickle. It only took about 20 minutes and the results were like nothing I'd ever tasted before... quite good! South Indian Coconut and Cilantro Chutney was another quickie and delicious over rice. I want to try her recipes for Banana Ketchup, Pickled Pineapple and Peanuts, Indonesian Vegetable Pickles and Malaysian Pickled Vegetables. There are recipes to pickle ginger, eggplant, pears, plums, carrots, cabbage and much more! The author rounds out the usefulness of this book by including extensive sections on pickling ingredients, resources, and measurement/conversion charts. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to explore the delectable options in pickling. If you are in the rut of just eating those kosher dills or sweet gherkin pickles found at your local grocery, do yourself a favor and pick up this book! 
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: Asian Pickles Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond Author: Karen Solomon Publisher: Ten Speed Press Published: 6-10-2014 ISBN: 9781607744764 ASIN E-Book: B00HBQWK5E Pages: 208 Genre: Food & Wine Tags: Cooking, Cookbooks, Pickling Overall Rating: Great Reviewed For: NetGalley Reviewer: DelAnne Most hear pickle and think kosher dill or sweet gherkin, but the truth is almost anything can be pickled. Do not limit yourself to just cucumbers. Asian cultures have been using pickling as a preservative. Learn the recipes to pickle ginger, cabbage, pear, plums, carrots and even eggplant. There are limiless different vegetables, fruits and other foods that can be presserved. Easy to understand and follow instructions to make Asian Pickles Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves One of the most must have cookbook for the home cook. Get professional result the easy way. Have a recipe on hand the next time you decide to pickle some of the bounty from your garden.