Skip to main content

Umeboshi Is the Most Versatile Pickle

By Lan Lam Published

Enliven everything from noodles to salad dressings with its salty, acidic, fruity punch.

Umeboshi, one of many pickles common in Japanese cuisine, are often called preserved plums—but they are actually made by brining and drying ume, a small stone fruit closely related to the apricot. A bite of umeboshi wakes the palate with a strong kick of salt and acidity but finishes softly with a funky fruitiness, a flavor reminiscent of preserved lemons.

This punchy, versatile pickle can be purchased in a number of different forms. Here are some of our favorite applications for each.

Whole umeboshi: Whole pickles must be pitted before consuming. We recommend finely chopping the pitted pickles and stirring them into miso soup, sprinkling them over raw cucumber, or tossing them over poached chicken

Umeboshi paste: Umeboshi paste allows cooks to skip the pitting and chopping steps, and it also incorporates better than whole pickles into applications where a smoother texture is required. Try whisking it into salad dressing or incorporating it into nigiri. 

Plum vinegar: A byproduct of the umeboshi preserving process, plum vinegar, also known as ume vinegar, is the brine produced when umeboshi is preserved. It has the same salty sourness as umeboshi and a slightly syrupy consistency. It’s used to pickle vegetables, to season steamed or sautéed vegetables, and to preserve cherry blossoms.

New to umeboshi? Try it on rice first:

If you’ve never tried umeboshi, we recommend starting off with this simple, traditional approach to best appreciate these pickles’ punchy flavor. 

  • Place whole umeboshi atop steamed white rice, udon, or somen. 
  • If you’d like, dress up the dish with a sprinkling of bonito flakes, toasted sesame seeds, shredded nori, thinly sliced scallions, and/or fresh shiso.
  • Break the fruit open with chopsticks and gently mix the ingredients as you eat, discarding the fruit’s pit.

Recipe Mexican-Style Pickled Vegetables (Escabeche)

These pickled vegetables pair perfectly with tacos.

Recipe Daikon-Carrot Pickle (Do Chua)

Quick-pickled carrot and daikon adds a tangy, crunch to Vietnamese dishes.

Recipe Lime Pickle

Salty, savory, and spicy, this Indian preserve pairs especially well with rich curries. 

Leave a comment and join the conversation!

0 Comments
Read & post comments with a free account
Join the conversation with our community of home cooks, test cooks, and editors.
First Name is Required
Last Name is Required
Email Address is Required
How we use your email?
Password is Required
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.