Who would have thought that Rhubarb can be Umeboshi, the Japanese pickled plum!? Whoever thought about making Umeboshi from Rhubarb is a genius because certain Japanese ingredients are hard to get outside of Japan and this is surprisingly just like umeboshi.
What is Umeboshi
Umeboshi is pickled plum. You may have seen Umeboshi used for topping or as a filling of Onigiri rice balls or in the middle of plain rice in a bento box. Some of them are large and wrinkly and dark red in colour and taste very salty. I am from near Minabe which is famous for the best Nanko Ume (plum) in Japan. I helped my grandma to harvest plum when I was a kid. It was fun!
Unusual vegetable Rhubarb for Japanese
Rhubarb is an unfamiliar vegetable for Japanese people. I certainly did not know rhubarb existed until I migrated to Australia. I have never seen, cooked, and eaten rhubarb in Japan but it was actually introduced to Japan in the Meiji era in Nagano prefecture.
Why Use Rhubarb to Make Umeboshi
Rhubarb is a perennial plant native to Southern Siberia. Rhubarb leaves are not edible, only the stalk part is used for making jam and often used to make sweets. Umeboshi is salty but the texture when Rhubarb is cooked is very similar to the texture of Umeboshi so it is suitable to make mock Umeboshi. The taste is also very similar.
Pick the best possible Rhubarb to make Umeboshi Modoki
Modoki means mock in Japanese. Umeboshi is usually reddish in colour because it is pickled with red Shiso leaves. There are two types of rhubarb: red coloured stalk one and green one. In my opinion, the reddish one makes it look more similar to Umeboshi as when it is cooked the colour becomes a brilliant red. The thinner the stalk, the more red in colour the Umeboshi will be.
３Tips to make great mock Umeboshi
- Choose the most red and thinnest rhubarb to make brilliant reddish coloured mock Umeboshi.
- Cut and soak the rhubarb in water to remove the astringent taste, for no longer than 20 minutes. It may lose acidity as well as the astringent taste if it is left in water longer.
- No need to add water. After soaking in water, sprinkle salt over it. This process will withdraw some water out of the rhubarb.
Using Umeboshi Rhubarb in Japanese cooking
Here is my instruction for Umeboshi Rhubarb and If you liked it, please rate it and leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook , Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on Chopstick Chronicles. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ChopstickChronicles so I can see your wonderful creations!
How to make mock Umeboshi with Rhubarb
Wash and cut the rhubarb about 1 cm (0.4 inch) wide.
Soak them in a bowl of water for 20 minutes.
Drain the soaking water and sprinkle salt over the rhubarb.
Leave it for 20 minutes in order to withdraw some water.
Place them (with the water that comes out) in a small saucepan and cook over low heat for 7 -10 minutes.
Mash it in a Japanese mortar. *1
Keep it in a sterilised jar.
*1 If you don’t have a Japanese mortar, just mash it in the saucepan with a fork.