Simmered takuan pickles (たくあんの煮物)
Simmered takuan pickles (pickled daikon radish) is a local dish of some regions in Japan. It is commonly seen on the table in the regions including Kyoto, Shiga, Fukui, and Ishikawa Prefectures. Old takuan, that sits in the pickling crock too long, is simmered in dashi (Japanese broth made from bonito, dried sardines, kelp, or in combination) and soy sauce, and flavored by Togarashi (dried hot red chili pepper), and so on. It is typically served warm from the pot or cold as a side dish for sake (Japanese liquor) and other alcohol drink, or as a condiment for rice and chazuke (a simple rice dish made by pouring green tea or dashi over cooked rice and sprinkling toppings). Seasonally speaking, simmered takuan is often made from summer to fall.
The dish is called by a different name from region to region: the most standard term is; 'takuan no nitano,' or 'takuwan no nitano,' with local variations being 'takkuan no nitano,' and 'takkan no nitano;' other names include: 'takuan no taitano,' or 'takuan no taitan,' where 'taita' means simmered or cooked, an expression more frequently used in western Japan, 'zeitaku-ni,' which literally means luxurious simmered dish, inferring that time and effort were expended for the extra process of cooking daikon pickles, which could have been served as is, and 'furusato-ni,' which literally means a hometown style simmered dish.
In some grocery stores in Shiga Prefecture, simmered takuan dishes are sold at the ready-made dish section labeled as 'zeitaku-ni' (luxurious simmered dish).
This phrase might make people wonder at first, because it is difficult to make a connection with the simmered dish of daikon pickles, and it indicates the dish with unique cuisines by each region. Every family has their own recipe inherited from generation to generation; below is an example of how the simmered takuan dish is made in Fukui Prefecture.
Cut old takuan into 2 to 3 mm thick into round slices, put them in a bowl with water.
Put takuan and some water in a pot; simmer it in the pot until takuan becomes soft. While cooking, pour off and add water several times.
Make sure to have a good ventilation because a strong smell will develop during cooking.
When takuan becomes soft enough, pour the water off, then add dashi, soy sauce, and one table spoon of sesame oil, and let it simmer for a while.
When the takuan absorbs the soy sauce flavor, remove the pot from the heat, transfer the dish onto a plate, sprinkle white sesame (hineri-goma (soporific roasted sesame crushed with fingers), and sliced dried red chili pepper in rounds as topping.