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Oshinko Maki – An All-time Favorite Japanese Vegetable Roll

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

The Japanese yellow pickle found its way to all of our hearts by way of the delicious oshinko maki roll.

I always take pleasure in sharing a new and inspiring variety of sushi so that others may get to enjoy a wide range of flavors and make their meals healthier and more exciting. The last time I wrote about sushi, I had already decided to dedicate a piece to Oshinko.

It is not just its fine taste or the freshness of its ingredients which makes this roll a must have. Before I had oshinko vegan sushi, I’d only tried oshinko salad first.

It was at a restaurant that serves the most delectable oshinko salad in town. It was only then that I found out about the roll, and my search for the maki roll recipe came afterward.

When I finally got my hands on the recipe, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so simple and easy to make! The only difficulty I faced making this sushi was finding the inside pickle filling — not readily available everywhere.

Luckily, I learned to make that pickle by myself. So now my refrigerator is always stuffed with the necessary ingredients, and within a few minutes, I can make myself a nice and juicy slice of Oshinko maki roll.

There is no need to travel miles just to get the richness of traditional Japanese flavors. You can enjoy all those at home at any time of the day with the super quick Oshinko recipe.

What is Oshinko?

I have heard many vegetarians complain about not being able to enjoy sushi. All those vegetarians who cannot enjoy sushi just because of the salmon or the fish filling will love this special sushi.

That’s right!

Oshinko is a vegetarian sushi. Instead of seafood stuffing, it is instead filled with vegetables including pickled radish. It is the radish itself which is known as Oshinko in Japanese, and when such a pickle is wrapped inside a sushi roll, it is known as Oshinko maki roll.

In Japan and in nearby regions, the roll is readily available at all the great restaurants and even at street vendors. In fact, there are so many flavors and varieties of the Oshinko roll offered in such places. Only people living outside the country find any difficulty in procuring this peculiar flavor at home.

Like sushi, Oshinko can be made easily using an outer wrap of a seaweed nori sheet and a single layer of cooked sushi rice. Inside this wrapping, the maki roll has a surprise awaiting: the radish pickle. The daikon radish is commonly pickled in Japan and more commonly used in different recipes including the sushi roll.

Since this roll is not made with any meat, it is readily admired by vegetarians everywhere, and has recently become a popular vegan sushi. Besides the radish, fresh vegetables are also added to the sushi for more flavor. Usually, cucumber is sliced lengthwise and then added along with the radish in a 1:1 proportion.

Other vegetables like shredded napa cabbage or shredded carrots can also be added as an extra to enhance the flavor further.

Every Oshinko roll is made out of three basic things: one is the seaweed wrap, the second is the sushi rice, and the third is the daikon radish pickle. Once all of them are prepared beforehand, it takes a few minutes to assemble the roll for a fresh serving. I prefer keeping the sushi rice ready in the refrigerator and the pickle in the jar.

The range of Pickles

In Japanese cuisine, a whole range of vegetable pickles are used. The name changes based on the vegetables and the pickling liquid. All pickled vegetables in the country are known as Tsukemono, and Oshinko is pickled using one form of the brine solution.

When vegetables are pickled using salt in the liquid, a collective term used for such pickles is Oshinko. As radish are most commonly pickled, the word denotes pickled radish in particular.

Usually, vegetables are pickled for days and even weeks in a warm place or under sunlight, but unlike those methods, the pickling of the daikon radish takes much less time, yet it tastes so good. It is probably because of the fibrous texture of the radish which readily absorbs all the liquid and spices.

What Does Oshinko Taste Like?

A daikon radish has a very mild taste of radish; in fact, it tastes like a mix of carrot and radish flavors combined in a one. The Oshinko is pickled using salt and spices, so the radish is infused with a sweet and salty taste. The taste largely depends on how you pickle the radish and which set of spices you use.

Due to the use of turmeric in the brine, the pickle turns bright yellow in color. The Oshinko roll is itself is famous for its distinct appearance. It has an outer green layer, lined internally with white and filled with a refreshing yellow pickle inside and sliced cucumber. This combination of hues makes this sushi particularly tempting to the eye.

A single bite of the Oshinko sushi roll offers such a wide range of flavors that it is hard to label it with a single word. It is a mixture of sweet, salty and savory flavors.

The sushi rice gives its own distinct earthy taste, the seaweed adds a bit of neutrality to the roll, and the pickle brings all the spice to the table. Cucumber slices give it a boost of freshness. This Japanese vegetable roll is indeed full of surprises. When served with wasabi paste or roasted sesame seeds on top, the roll tastes heavenly.

Is it Vegetarian?

Yes! That is the whole idea of making sushi with yellow pickle. Since raw vegetables cannot best replace the salmon in the sushi, the Japanese came up with a better alternative. They added something loved by every other Japanese, the yellow daikon radish pickle.

The original Oshinko recipe is vegan and perfect for every vegetarian. However, it is always best to check and confirm the contents if you order this roll at a restaurant. There are a number of Oshinko varieties available these days at the restaurants, but they are generally made vegetarian.

Gluten free?

Lots of people have asked me this question in particular. There is hardly a Japanese recipe which is gluten-free, so it is hard to imagine if the Oshinko rolls are gluten-free. The pickle itself does not contain much gluten, but when it is stuffed in a sushi roll, its gluten content is increased a great deal.

From rice vinegar to sake and all the way over to sushi rice, ingredients in Japanese cuisine are full of gluten. So, no! Oshinko is not gluten-free, and anybody with an intolerance to gluten should avoid taking Oshinko. Even the Oshinko salad contains gluten.

The Oshinko Salad

There is yet another way to make the Oshinko more vegetarian and grain-free. Since carb-rich rice is not suitable for every diet, you can still enjoy the classic Oshinko taste in its salad. This salad is made out of nothing but vegetables and the radish pickle. With a light and easy-to-make dressing, the salad tastes exactly like the roll.

I usually serve this salad whenever there is something Asian in the menu, as its flavor beautifully complements the Japanese Cuisine. Along with radish, carrot and cucumber are pickled in vinegar and salt.

Here is a complete list of ingredients required for this salad: 1/3 lb. radishes, 1/3 lb. carrot, peeled and sliced to 1/4″ oval discs, 1/3 lb. seedless, hothouse or English cucumber, sliced to 1/4″ oval discs, 2 tablespoons Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sake (optional).

Prepare all the vegetables, peel them first, then slice them into lengthwise slices, about into ¼ inch slices. Place all the vegetables in a bowl and drizzle the rice vinegar, sake, and salt over the vegetables and cover them with plastic wrap.

Keep this bowl cool and keep draining the liquid every few hours. These vegetables take three to pickle. Mix them well and season as desired. Refrigerate well before serving.

Oshinko Roll Recipe – The Easiest Recipe You Can Find

Are you planning to surprise your family with a platter of special Oshinko roll over your next meal? You’ve come to the right place! I am about to share a very easy Oshinko recipe. You may come across many different recipes of the traditional Japanese vegetable roll, but not all of them are made using ingredients which are accessible to all.

So I searched for a recipe which could be made using the same old kitchen spices and some basic sushi ingredients. If you have already tried making sushi at home, then this roll won’t give you any trouble. It is similar to any other sushi, except for the inside filling.

Ingrediens:

  • 3 cups Japanese-style white rice
  • 3/4-1 cup Kikkoman Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 4 sheets toasted nori
  • 2 Japanese cucumbers, cut into thin strips
  • 8 strips Japanese pickled vegetables, such as takuan (radish)
  • and gobo (burdock)
  • 2/3 cup crabmeat or surimi (imitation crab)
  • 3-4 tablespoons plain or wasabi mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 6 slices avocado
  • Kikkoman Wasabi Sauce
  • Pickled ginger
  • Kikkoman Soy Sauce

Directions:

Let me tell you how it’s done! Start off by making the sushi rice. If you are a newbie, don’t panic. Making sushi rice is not rocket science. It is simpler than any other rice recipe. First, rinse the rice under cold water, and keep rinsing until the water runs clear.

Meanwhile, boil water for cooking in a pot or simply prepare the rice cooker, and cook the rice as per the instructions on the box. Once the rice is fully cooked, transfer it to an almost flat bowl.

Use a spatula to mix the cooked rice well. As soon as the rice stops steaming, pour in the sushi vinegar gradually — about 3 tablespoons of vinegar per 1 cup of the cooked rice. Continue mixing the rice until it’s evenly seasoned with the vinegar.

After cooling the rice to room temperature, cover the rice bowl with plastic wrap or damp towel. Set this bowl aside. Do not place it in the refrigerator. Keep it at room temperature.

Let’s turn to the Oshinko roll.

In Japan it is known as Oshinko maki, meaning pickled vegetable rolls. To make these rolls, you will need all the tools essential for sushi like a bamboo mat and a flat surface.

Spread the bamboo mat on a flat surface and then top it with 1 sheet of nori, with its shiny side downward. Use wet dampened fingers to spread a layer of 1.5 cups of cooked sushi rice on top of the nori sheet. Leave about a ¾ inch of the top portion of the nori sheet from covering.

It’s time to add more taste and color to these rolls. Start by placing 4 strips of cucumbers and 4 strips of the yellow pickle over the layer of rice. Use the mat to roll up all these ingredients together in the nori sheet tightly. Start rolling the sheet from the bottom end and gradually work it up to the top.

Make more rolls using the remaining sheets and ingredients. Now take a sharp knife and start slicing the Oshinko rolls for serving. Keep cleaning the knife with a wet cloth after each cut for a nice and neat finish. Carefully place the slices on the serving plate and serve.

You can also give this traditional Oshinko roll a new taste and style by adding some additional stuffing like avocado slices, crab meat, and mayo. It will taste more like the California sushi roll. For best Oshinko taste, keep it simple and basic, and you will love it.

Let’s talk a little about the presentation. Pickled ginger and wasabi paste look great in the platter when served with the sliced Oshinko sushi. The colors within the roll look so tempting that it hardly needs anything extra.

For extra taste, however, you can prepare a bowl of your favorite dipping or simply place some soy sauce in a small bowl to serve along. I personally love toasted sesame seeds, so a little drizzle before serving is now my routine, but you can skip that too if sesame seeds don’t sound great to you.

Japanese Yellow Pickle

People who are still stuck on the thought of where to get this Japanese pickle should chin up, as I am about to give the answer. This yellow pickle is easily found in any Asian specialty shop.

But if those stores are rare in your area, then don’t wait around for the pickle to come to you. You can make it by yourself with a simple and easy recipe. Sure, it will take some time, but the good pickle is worth the wait. Here are a few of the things that you will need to do some pickling.

1 1/2 cups (355ml) water, 1 1/2 cups (355ml) unseasoned rice vinegar, 1/2 cup (100g) sugar, 1 tablespoon (15g) kosher salt, 2 medium cloves garlic, halved lengthwise, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 15 whole black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and 1-pound (450g) daikon radish, peeled and cut into 4- by 1/4-inch strips

The white part of the radish is used, so trim off all the top leaves and start preparing the vegetable for the pickle. Peel it gently then slice it into strips. Most people dice the radish into small cylinders, so the shape is up to you. but pickled strips are easy to handle and can be added to any food especially the Oshinko roll.

After preparing the radish, just keep it aside, covered in a basket. Meanwhile, we need to prepare the pickle mixture which is full of seasonings. Take a medium saucepan and boil all the spices, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, and vinegar with water.

Continue boiling it until the sugar is completely dissolved in the solution. Keep stirring this mixture meanwhile. Once is it completely mixed, turn off the heat of the pan and add the daikon radish to this brine solution. Allow this mixture to cool for about 2 hours at room temperature.

Check if the mixture is cooled to room temperature. Prepare a clean airtight jar to preserve the pickle. Make sure to take a glass jar for this purpose; any plastic material is likely to get yellow stains from the turmeric. Pour the pickles along with the brine into the jar and seal the lid. Keep this pickle in the refrigerator. It can be stored for about 1 month.

For a strong brine solution taste, I crush the peppercorns slightly and then add them to the brine solution. Once the mixture is cooked well, and the essence of all the ingredients is completely mixed, I strain this mixture into the saucepan. Then I add the radish to the strained mixture. This way I get to enjoy pure radish pickle without any of the spice and garlic, but with most of the taste.

Tips to Remember for the Best Results

It is possible to enjoy restaurant-quality sushi at home. When the sushi is as simple as the Oshinko, then it only takes a good assembly of the ingredients into a well-wrapped seaweed roll. To make your Oshinko sushi roll as a good as the professionals, keep these following tips in mind.

  • Always use a bamboo mat

To tightly and neatly wrap the sushi roll, a flat surface will not do. A bamboo mat makes it easier to handle the nori sheet. If you are a sushi lover, keep this bamboo mat in your kitchen.

  • Seedless Cucumber

For a good Oshinko roll, always use the seedless variety of the cucumber. Such varieties contain less amount of water which is great when you are to pack them inside the sushi rice. Japanese and English cucumber are two commonly available seedless varieties of cucumber, suitable for this sushi.

  • Pickled Radish

When you are pickling the radish at home, make sure to completely soak the radish into the salt solution. The longer the vegetable stays in the brine, the better the taste will be infused into the radish.

  • Strain the vegetables

Right before placing the vegetable slices over the layer of sushi rice, make sure the veggies are completely drained and free from all excess liquid. Otherwise, the liquid from the cucumber will make the roll soggy from the inside out.

  • Wrap

If you are not serving the Oshinko roll right away, then carefully wrap the slices into a plastic sheet. This preserves the freshness of the roll and keeps the moisture intact. Now refrigerate the rolls until served.

  • Slice to serve

These rolls can be served in sushi style. Simply slice them into 1 inch or thicker slices and place them on the serving plate with a pair of chopsticks. A drizzle of soy sauce or rice vinegar over the slices gives both a good taste and color.

  • Garnishes

When it comes to garnishing, you can be as creative as you want. But Japanese cuisine is all about simplicity, so you should not add rich highly-flavored sauce to garnish your Oshinko roll with. Keep the garnishes to the minimum and let the taste of the pickle do the rest.

Conclusion

They say nothing is more special than a fine sushi dinner. Oshinko, with its super tasty and delicious filling inside, is one of the best sushis you can make at home at any time. Its vegetable content makes this sushi perfect for all vegetarians.

When you’re in Japan, the radish pickle itself is a delicacy to try, and when it is packed inside a thick layer of sushi roll, it becomes irresistible. The juicy pickle along with the water cucumber gives this roll a super succulent taste.

Ever since I came to know about this epic Japanese delight, it has become a constant part of all my special meals be it weekend night meals or other celebrations. Give this sushi a try, and you too will fall for its inspiring taste and juicy texture.

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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