From Farm to ’Fridge, Naoki and Rose Honda are Keeping Tsukemono Culture Alive

Arnold Hiura
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Tsukemono just might be one of the most underrated components in Japanese cuisine. Many local folks have grown up with that simple side dish of pickled veggies that provides a refreshing crunch and palate-cleansing sparkle at every meal.

In the old days, tsukemono was almost always made at home with whatever grew in the family garden or was given to them by friends and neighbors. Daikon (radish), won bok (Chinese cabbage), tamanä (cabbage), radish, mustard cabbage and rakkyo (Chinese onion) were among the favorites. Some were simply salted and placed in a crock with a cover of some kind and a heavy stone on top, while others were pickled in vinegar and seasoned with shöyu, sugar and other spices.

Very few folks make their own pickles anymore. On the Big Island, that role has largely been assumed by Naoki Honda and his wife, Rose, who own and operate Honda Food Processing in Hilo. There, in a 3,000-square foot space in the Kanoelehua Industrial Area, Honda Foods prepares a variety of pickled products made with locally grown produce.

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