Nuka Vegetables

Nukadoko is a Japanese fermented picking bed made from rice bran. You can think of a nukadoko pickling bed just like any other fermented food, such as active yogurt or sauerkraut. In the same sense that yogurt is alive, the nukadoko is alive and active lactic acid and other living organisms have to be taken care of every day.

This recipe is your wheat bran starter for pickling vegetables; who knows how many different pickles you can make from there!

  • Beer (lager or light ale) – (5C)
  • Kosher salt – (3.75oz)
  • Rice bran – (16oz)
  • Spent grain – (16oz)
  • Bread, slice – (1ea)
  • Garlic, clove – (1oz)
  • Ginger – (2oz)
  • Dashi kombu, 4” square, cut in strips – (1ea)
  • Dried Chile – (1ea)
  • Sauce pot
  • Shallow storage container(s)
  • Wok
  • Spoon
  • Food processor
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Cheesecloth
  1. Combine beer and salt over med heat. Cook off alcohol, dissolve salt and cool to room temp
    Place bran in a large container or crock and pour in the brine. Mix well using your hands until all of the brine is incorporated. Mix in more filtered water as needed until the nukadoko resembles damp sand (not too dry and not too watery).
  2. Add the bread, garlic, and ginger to a food processor and pulse until finely crumbled and combined.
    Fold in the blend (bread crumbs, garlic, ginger) kombu, and chiles, then bury a few vegetables (any household veg like carrots or radish, etc) in the nukadoko and flatten the surface with your hands. The bran should be neatly compressed.
  3. Cover the container with a lid (left ajar), a couple layers of cheesecloth and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  4. The next day, scoop up and turn over the bran with your hands a few times (from the bottom up) to aerate it. Do this every day for as long as you have your nukadoko.
    After two days, remove the vegetables from the nukadoko and brush off the excess bran. Taste vegetables, then toss (will be very salty). Add new starter vegetables to the nukadoko and replace them again in two days. Continue using starter vegetables for two weeks until the nukadoko develops a rich, earthy scent. Taste each batch of starter vegetables that you remove so you get a feel for how the nukadoko changes as it ferments.
  5. After two weeks, the nukadoko should be microbially active enough to produce proper pickles. You can start to leave your vegetables in the nukadoko overnight to start pickling them. If they still taste very salty, and not yet sour, leave them in for one or two more days to continue fermenting. As your nukadoko matures, you’ll be able to pickle smaller vegetables in two to four hours, and larger vegetables in six to eight hours (or overnight).