Nukazuke (Rice-Bran Pickles)

By William Pauley   –   Feast Magazine

Mabel Suen

Nukazuke are Japanese pickles made from a rice-bran pickling bed called nukadoko, which looks like wet sand. (Rice bran is the nutrient-rich outer layer of rice grains.) Nukadoko must be aerated by hand every couple days and topped with fresh rice bran frequently. Chef William Pauley of Confluence Kombucha and The GastroLAB in St. Louis prefers making nukazuke with Korean sea salt; he recommends pickling radishes, cucumber, kohlrabi, apples and celery with it. You can find rice bran at specialty grocery stores, health-food stores or online. Korean sea salt also can be found online.

Recipe by William Pauley, chef-owner, Confluence Kombucha and The GastroLAB in St. Louis

Yields | 6 quarts |

  • 4 lb rice bran
  • 1 lb Korean sea salt or sea salt
  • 24 oz gluten-free beer
  • 2 whole lemon peels
  • 1 Tbsp Thai chile flakes
  • vegetable scraps fruits and vegetables (apples, persimmons, cucumbers, celery, radishes, beets, carrots), for pickling

Preparation | In a large container, mix rice bran, salt and beer until a wet-sand texture forms. Add lemon peel and Thai chile flakes. Smooth out a layer of rice bran in the bottom of container. Layer in vegetable scraps, then more rice bran, then more scraps, and so on. This is the bed you’ll use for pickling later. When you reach the top of the container, pack a final layer of rice bran. Cover and store at room temperature in a dry, dark place for 2 weeks. Aerate daily by stirring and topping with fresh rice bran as mixture becomes wet. Add new scraps every few days. Taste scraps after 2 weeks to determine if bed is properly fermented. If scraps taste raw, they may need to ferment longer; the longer they ferment, the saltier they become. Once nukadoko is ready to produce pickles, add fresh fruit or vegetables. Some might take a few hours to pickle, others overnight. Apples and persimmons take about 1 hour; cucumbers, celery, and small radishes should pickle overnight; and beets, larger radishes, and carrots require multiple days. Rinse pickles in cool water and pat dry before serving.