Some years ago whilst attending a wholefoods course I was introduced to umeboshi plums (also known as “Ume” or Japanese apricots). I had never heard of them before but they are an important Japanese ingredient that is highly prized for its flavour and nutritional benefits. To better illustrate this point, here is an extract from:
Japanese Cooking 101:
“Umeboshi is sour pickled plum and has been eaten for over a thousand years in Japan. Ripened plums are marinaded with salt, sun-dried, and preserved for a couple of months to develop the flavour.
Initially, the preserved plums are actually yellow, not the familiar red you typically see Umeboshi. Red perilla leaves (Shiso) are pickled along with the plums to give a nice red colour. It tastes salty and sour and goes with rice very well.
Umeboshi have many uses and plays many roles. It can be used whole (with or without a pit) to put in Onigiri rice ball as a filling. Hinomaru Bento (Japanese flag Bento) is just white rice in a bento box with a single Umeboshi placed in the middle of rice. Saltiness of even one Umeboshi can go far to eat a whole bowl of rice without any other dishes.
Umeboshi also is said to suppress bacteria, and often is used in Bento Box lunches which may be kept at room temperature for a couple of hours.
Umeboshi has a refreshing plum flavour and is good in Okayu porridge when you are not feeling well. It can also be chopped up and added to sauces or other dishes to flavour. A very flexible ingredient and a basic part of Japanese food.”
When I first tasted Umeboshi my face puckered with the saltiness of it … but the intense sour/salt flavour really appealed to me, and when mixed with other ingredients I find it delicious. So don’t be put off by the saltiness when you first try it on it’s own, mix it with other ingredients and you will be rewarded for your time in sourcing this ingredient.
Umeboshi can be found at Japanese stores, but I have also found them at some health food stores … it can be bought as dried plums but also a paste made simply from the plums … my preference is for the plums but I have tested this recipe using both so get your hands on whatever you can.
I was inspired to use umeboshi again after I bought a lovely cookbook called CIBI, written by Meg and Zenta Tanaka who own a wonderful concept store in Collingwood, Melbourne, serving delicious Japanese inspired wholesome food (see here). They use umeboshi in some of their recipes in the book which reminded me of this amazing ingredient.
This dressing is delicious with any kind of Asian style salad … I love mixing it simply with finely sliced cabbage, carrot, daikon, noodles, and fresh herbs of choice … it is so simple to make and compliments any Asian style dish.
- 125g rice vinegar
- 110g light olive oil (not full flavoured)
- 3 pickled umeboshi plums (pitted), or 2 level tbls umeboshi paste
- 1 tbls honey
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- Sea salt flakes as needed
- Place all ingredients, except salt, into TM bowl and blend 10 seconds / speed 8
- Scrape around bowl, ensuring to get to the base to move any honey that may have settled there and blend again 10 seconds / speed 8
- Taste and add a little sea salt if needed ... if adding salt blend 10 seconds / speed 3 to combine
- Store in a glass jar in the fridge where it will keep for at least a week, if not longer
- If there is any separation during this time, simply stir the dressing before using