Iburigakko: Akita’s Smoked Pickled Daikon Radish
As you may know, “Takuan (たくあん or 沢庵)” is yellow pickled Daikon radish commonly eaten throughout Japan, which is said to have been first created by a Japanese Zen Buddhist named “Takuan Souhou (沢庵 宗彭)” in the Edo period, about 400 years ago.
Traditionally, for making Takuan pickles, Daikon radish is first dried in the sun until wilted and pickled in salted rice malt.
However, in the inland southern part of Akita Prefecture, Daikon radish for the pickles is dried by smoking over the Japanese-style open hearth “Irori (囲炉裏)” in the house and then pickled in a mixture of rice malt and salt, for the region has long winter days.
The Akita’s specialty smoked pickle is called “Iburi-Gakko (いぶりがっこ)” and famous nationwide in Japan. In its name, “Gakko (がっこ)” is a word from Akita’s dialect for pickles, and Iburi-Gakko is also known as “Iburi-Zuke (いぶり漬け)”.
Iburi-Zuke can also be made of vegetables other than Daikon radish, such as carrot, and are characterized by the dark brown surface and distinctive taste that comes from smoking.
How to Eat
Unlike normal yellow Takuan pickles, the smoked pickled Daikon radish Iburigakko features a smoky taste. But Iburigakko is a kind of pickle, so as with other Japanese pickles, it basically pairs well with plain white rice.
Iburigakko is also used as the main ingredient for “Ochazuke (お茶漬け)” rice soup and its basic recipe is very simple like this; place some slices of Iburigakko pickles on top of steamed plain rice in a bowl and pour in hot green tea until the rice is entirely soaked.
Iburigakko with Cream Cheese
It is often said that cream cheese is one of the best matches with Iburigakko pickles. In fact, the combination of the smoky Iburigakko and the rich creamy cheese is exquisite and has long been loved by the locals in Akita too.
(Reference Pages: Wikipedia いぶり漬け, 沢庵漬け)