Umeboshi and umeboshi paste are lively and versatile seasonings that add a pleasant tartness to salad dressings, cooked vegetables, and sauces. Umeboshi is also commonly served in Japan as a condiment with rice, or tucked inside a rice ball wrapped with nori. In the summer, thick cucumber rounds spread thinly with umeboshi paste are a cooling treat. Sparingly spread on cooked sweet corn, it is a delicious, healthful alternative to butter and salt. Umeboshi also goes well with members of the cabbage family, including broccoli, kale, and cauliflower.
When using whole pickled plums, it is usually necessary to remove the pit and mince the flesh before adding it to recipes. Umeboshi paste, another product offered under the Mitoku brand, can be substituted for umeboshi in virtually any recipe.
The shiso leaves that are often packaged with umeboshi are also delicious when chopped and used as a seasoning inside nori rolls or when tossed in with steamed or sautéed vegetables.
Plum vinegar, also known as Umeboshi vinegar or ume-su, contains many of the healing qualities and nutrients associated with pickled plums, and it is easy and convenient to use. Both pleasantly tart and salty, umeboshi vinegar is a versatile seasoning that is especially refreshing on hot afternoons. Use umeboshi vinegar to liven up salad dressings, homemade quick pickles, and tofu spreads. It adds a pleasantly pungent flavor to cooked leafy greens (especially cabbage), cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans. Steam, boil, or sauté vegetables until tender but still colorful. Drain if necessary, place in a serving bowl, and toss with umeboshi vinegar to taste. When substituting umeboshi vinegar for other types of vinegar, substantially reduce the amount used, or eliminate the salt in the recipe. The following recipes will help you become familiar with umeboshi and umeboshi vinegar and will soon have you discovering new ways to use these delicious and healthful seasonings.