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Once you've pickled all the cucumbers and onions in sight, what's next? Nancy Singleton Hachisu's new book, Preserving the Japanese Way, gives us loads (125!) of ideas, but here we're featuring three that range from easy to a little more difficult, quick to very long. Start with cabbage—the first vegetable Nancy thinks you should ferment—then gobble up all of the season's eggplant with a light fish sauce broth and stock your pantry with DIY miso. What are you waiting for? Your pickle game just got a whole lot more interesting.
This is the first recipe Nancy thinks you should tackle because even if the cabbage sours, it still tastes good. Layer the cabbage with salt, garlic, chile peppers, and lemons in a tub, let the cabbage hang out for a couple weeks, then eat it within a month or two.
Nancy says this dish is "dead-simple," but what got us is her description of it: "eggplant simmered in a whisper of a broth." That broth is made of konbu, fish sauce, and sake. Sounds pretty heavenly, doesn't it?
"The beauty of miso is in its forgiveness. You can almost do anything to it and it will still ferment." With that blessing from Nancy, we say: We're making miso! It does take a few months, but it's not like you have to babysit it. Just get the mash into container, cover it with cheesecloth and a lid, kiss it goodnight, and revisit it when it's ready.
Photos by Bobbi Lin, James Ransom, and Kenji Miura.