Locals happily wait outside in the cold for up to an hour for a taste of the casual and deeply flavoured dishes at Kazu in Montreal. Inside, proprietor and chef Kazuo Akutsu, who was a highly skilled kaiseki chef in Japan, applies his talent to creating robust izakaya dishes, including these pickled vegetables. The cucumbers are sprinkled in shichimi togarashi, a mix of seven potent spices including chili, orange peel and Szechuan pepper.
3 cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
2 cups loosely packed napa or green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cups loosely packed bean sprouts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 12-ounce bottle unseasoned rice vinegar
6 tablespoons quick-dissolving sugar
1/4 teaspoon wasabi
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Shichimi togarashi to taste
1 teaspoon each black and white sesame seeds
Put each vegetable in its own shallow dish and distribute kosher salt among them. Mix and allow to sit for 2 to 3 hours. Drain any water that collects. In a large measuring cup or pitcher, mix rice vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves completely. Distribute vinegar mixture among vegetables (don’t worry if vegetables are not completely submerged). To cabbage, add wasabi and mix well. To bean sprouts, add soy sauce and sesame oil and mix well. Shake shichimi over cucumbers to taste. Allow vinegar and seasonings to penetrate pickles for approximately 2 hours, mixing and checking their progress every half-hour or so. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving or keep in refrigerator for up to 3 days.