Takuan Smoked [iburi-gakko]

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I adore all vegetables, those that are pickled are most interesting and in Japan, it is common, or it was very common in the past to make them at home. Nowadays, young Japanese are neglecting their traditions, they find disposable an easy way of life, fast and cheap. Consequently life in Japan, like everywhere else, the change is happening rapidly.

Traditional process of making Takuan, is easier than you think, but more difficult than it sounds. Firstly you hang a daikon radish in the sun for a few weeks until it becomes dehydrated and flexible. Next, the daikon is placed in a pickling crock and covered with a brine. Most Takuan are made with chemicals, they are too yellow and coloured to attract consumers. The finest are those made at home, or by specialist who take the time and care.

The most typical daikon radish smoked is iburi-gakko. These daikon are hung inside specially designed shacks, where cherry or apple logs are used to smoke them. After a few days, the vegetables develops a darkened colored on their skins, when they are finally pickled in a mixture of nuka (rice bran) and salt. This technique is passed down through generations, but the number of iburi-gakko producers are declining, so that it is becoming more difficult to find them.