Miki Kawasaki just published a gorgeously photographed guide to tsukemono (漬け物) on Serious Eats. The article covers the history and purpose of tsukemono as well as the how they’re made and how to serve them.
Japanese pickles—known collectively as tsukemono—can easily go unnoticed as part of a washoku (traditional Japanese) meal. Yet they’ve rightfully earned their place as a cornerstone food because they serve an important purpose: Japanese food culture is heavily influenced by principles of balance handed down from kaiseki (the national haute cuisine). These principles suggest that a meal should contain a variety of colors, flavors, and cooking methods while taking into account sensory and aesthetic considerations. Tsukemono help create this harmony. They cleanse the palate and provide piquancy to counter the heaviness of umami-rich foods.
(Please someone send these pickles to my house.)