Celery with chili pepper pickles (Serori no pirikara zuke)

celery_pirikarazuke.sidebar.jpgCelery isn't a very Japanese vegetable, but with the addition of the right flavors it can be turned into a refreshingly crunchy pickle that goes well with white rice, which is the base criteria for determining whether a pickle fits a Japanese meal or not. Besides, I always seem to have some celery in my fridge (who doesn't?), and this is a good excuse to use some up.

This is a nice salad-like pickle, that's best eaten with some of the pickling liquid spooned like dressing over the top. There's a nice bite and a color zing from the thin slivers of red chili pepper. (Pirikara means spicy-hot.) There's a little sake and mirin in the dressing, which gives it a twist.

Since celery is more fibrous than cucumber, it needs to marinade for a bit longer. Give it at least 3 hours, or overnight. It doesn't keep too well at room temperature, so reserve this for eating at home. It assembles as quickly as the other quick pickles in this series.

Celery with chili pepper pickles (Serori no pirikara zuke)

For the pickling liquid:

  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs sake
  • 1 tsp. mirin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 3 Tbs. rice vinegar

The vegetables:

  • 4 medium length celery stalks, preferably the tender ones from the heart
  • 1 mildly spicy red chili pepper

Addition at the end:

  • Toasted sesame oil


  • 2 plates of equal size with flat bottoms
  • A weight of some kind, such as a can of tomatoes
  • Ye good old plastic ziplock bag

Combine the pickling ingredients in a small pan. Heat up while stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Let come to a boil (to evaporate some of the alcohol) and let cool.

Wash and cut the celery stalks into short lengths, and cut them into matchsticks.

Cut in half, de-seed and devein the chili pepper. (Don't use a very hot chili pepper like habanero...you want something with bite but not mouth-numbing.) Julienne very finely.

Put the pickling liquid and the vegetables in a plastic zip bag, close up and toss well. Lay it down flat on a plate, distributing the celery out fairly evenly. Put the other plate on top. Weigh down with a weight on top of the upper plate. Let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but no more than a day.

To serve, arrange on a plate, spoon over some of the pickling liquid, and drizzle with a little sesame oil.

Filed under:  japanese lighter vegetables vegetarian vegan salad tsukemono

If you enjoyed this article, please consider becoming my patron via Patreon. ^_^

Become a Patron!


The Japanese word for celery is making me giggle like a schoolgirl. :)

I live in london and went to my favourite japanese restaurant today, So Japanese - and the reason why I went is that I was craving their fresh pickles!! I absolutely adore them and I'm thrilled to see that this looks like a similar recipe - sour, fresh, a little spicy and leaving the veg with some crunch - tho they usually use daikon and cucumber so I'll try with those first. I'm so excited to try your recipe and I'll let you know if I've cracked it! Not knowing how to create them at home has been bugging me since the restaurant opened!

This recipe is perfect for me as I dislike the taste of raw celery and the pickling liquid lessens that taste. I'll definitely be making this more often. Thank you for sharing this recipe. :)

I just finished a batch of these and they're terrific! Wonderful for a warm day!