Rakkyo (pickled shallots)
Tsukemono are delicious little pickled things such as beni shoga for yakisobo, takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Gari, the sweet and sour young ginger that cleanses the palate during a sushi session is another popular example and the list is large and varied with regional specialties like nozawana from Nagano further expanding the repertoire and indulging you with surprise when travelling. There are year round staples like gari and beni shoga then there are seasonal tsukemono even though we can obtain almost anything at anytime of the year. Rakkyo, one of my favourites for its assertive and colourful personality, will be commonly enjoyed alongside curry throughout the year but it is still special during the exciting transition between spring and summer and you will see stacks of this onion in abundance at your local village vegetable locker, the supermarket or farmers market from which it is compulsory to obtain yourself a bag and get them well and truly pickled.
Originally from China this is a species of allium and as such is related to the leek, chive, shallot, garlic and of course the mighty onion but it has a unique sweet mineral quality that is great sautéed and roasted but must be tried pickled as its flavour becomes clear, focused and rigorously tasty.