May 21

Miso Pickled Garlic (Ninniku Miso-zuke)—All you need is 3 ingredients and a glass jar!

in Appetizers, Fruits & Vegetables, Japanese, Oyatsu/Snack, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Sauces & Condiments

I have a very serious disease called jar-itis.  This disease causes me to fill my refrigerator with jars.  I inherited this disease from my father.  Our poor families are always complaining that there isn’t enough room in the refrigerator because our jars are taking up all the space. So you may be wondering what compels us to hoard these jars?  It’s our love for the things that come in them—like marinated artichoke hearts, olives, and pickles.  Living in Japan introduced me to a new kind of pickle—miso pickles.  Not only are miso pickles delicious, but they are wonderfully easy to make.  I recently made a batch of miso pickled garlic (called ninniku miso-zuke in Japanese) and thought I would share the process with you.  Miso helps temper the strong garlic flavor and seasons the cloves at the same time.

Heads of garlicGarlic pickled in miso

The only difficult step in making this dish is peeling off the thin filmy skin (underneath the regular skin).  Although this is monotonous work, it is worth it because it allows the miso to better permeate the cloves of garlic, making the pickling process go quicker and the garlic taste even better!

Trip ends of cloves and peel thin film off of each clove

Once you have trimmed off the root ends and peeled each clove, you boil them for 2 minutes, and then drain them.

Briefly boil the cloves of garlic

Then you make a mixture of miso paste and mirin,

Mix miso and mirin to make pickling mixture

spread a thin layer of the mixture on the bottom of a glass jar,

Put a thin layer of miso in the bottom of a glass jar

add a single layer of garlic cloves,

Layer garlic cloves on top of the miso

and repeat the layering process until you have used up all of your miso mixture and garlic cloves.  All that is left to do is seal the jar, put it in the refrigerator, and wait!

Ninniku Miso-Zuke (Garlic pickled in miso)

After about 10 days the cloves will be ready to eat.  If you want a more mild garlic flavor, let the cloves pickle for longer (at least a month or more).  I like the garlic flavor to be a bit stronger so 10 to 14 days is long enough for me.  The garlic can be eaten as a side dish or as a condiment or garnish for another dish.  I usually use aka-miso (red/brown miso paste), but you can use whatever miso paste you prefer.  If you use a sweeter miso paste, you can omit the mirin.  Once you have eaten all the yummy cloves of garlic, you can use the leftover miso mixture to make delicious miso soup.  Now I just need to go stuff a clove of pickled garlic in Mr. Fuji’s mouth before he can complain that I’ve added yet another jar to our already full refrigerator.

Finished Ninniku Miso-Zuke

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Miso Pickled Garlic (Ninniku Miso-zuke)

Makes 1/2 pound

1/2 pound fresh garlic cloves
1 cup aka-miso paste (red/brown miso paste)
1/4 cup mirin
1 quart glass jar (wide mouth is easier to use)1. Separate the garlic cloves and then cut off the root ends.  Remove the outer skin, and then carefully peel off the thin filmy skin that covers each clove.  Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add the cloves and let them cook for 2 minutes.  Then drain the cloves, pat them dry, and set them aside.

2. In a bowl, combine the miso paste and the mirin with a fork.  Spread a small amount of the miso mixture on the bottom of a glass jar.  Add a single layer of garlic cloves on top of the miso, then cover the cloves with another layer of the miso mixture.  Continue this layering process until all of the garlic and miso mixture has been used.  Make sure that all of the garlic cloves are covered with miso, then seal the jar and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 10 days.

4. To serve: Using a small spoon or fork, pull out the cloves you want to use, leaving the rest of the garlic to continue pickling.  Remove excess miso mixture and serve.  You can also wash the cloves and then pat them dry before serving them.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyndsey May 21, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Rachael, I’ll tell you what…if I keep reading your blog I’m going to catch this serious disease too. You sure make it look irresistable! Yummy, and I like how you have other uses for everything. Great snaps too!

Cheers, Lyndsey


Paula - bell'alimento May 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Okay I absolutely adore Garlic so how did I not know about pickled garlic? So making this!


Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } May 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I love garlic – roasted especially, but this looks incredibly interesting and a must try. TY for sharing!


Cookin' Canuck May 21, 2010 at 8:23 pm

What an intriguing condiment! I have never seen this done and I am completely smitten by it. I, too, have a thing for jars. My friends always comment on the number of condiments and other items I have in my fridge.


wendy May 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I love garlic! I will now go buy some more, and make this.
(True confessions time: I save jars in boxes because I can’t bear to throw them out.)


Camila F. May 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm

WOW, it looks amazing!


notyet100 May 21, 2010 at 10:17 pm

deliciou this looks


bunkycooks May 22, 2010 at 5:49 am

I love garlic and cute little jars! It is fun to make preserved foods or condiments. I might have to give this one a try. :)


Jessie May 22, 2010 at 8:17 am

awesome condiment, I could use that for a lot of food items. I can imagine it has a lot of great flavor too


Kim at May 22, 2010 at 8:52 am

Wow – great lookin’ condiment! When I grow up and have the patience to wait ten days, I’ll have to give this a try. ;-) [K]


megan May 23, 2010 at 7:15 am

I have never seen this but love how easy it is. I bet the flavor is over the top. I need to get out of my comfort zone and try this!


ivoryhut May 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

My oh my. My mom just gave me 6 pounds of miso, and I am absolutely going to make this. I love garlic, and I can’t wait to try this!


Nancy aka SpicieFoodie May 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Wow do these sounds scrumptious or what! I just love the taste and smell both of garlic and miso paste, I never would have thought of this. Sounds just perfect, a must try soon.


Jen @ How To: Simplify May 24, 2010 at 9:23 am

What a great condiment!


Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker} May 24, 2010 at 9:32 am

This looks awesome!! Great idea!


[email protected] May 26, 2010 at 3:47 am

Great tutorial Rachael – it’s amazing how some of the most intricate flavours are actually fairly easy to reproduce! We were just given more garlic than we know what to do with (pre-peeled!) so might have to see about this!


Kevin (Closet Cooking) June 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Miso pickled garlic sounds good!


Mel January 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm

If you boil UNPEELED garlic cloves, the skin slips right off. Bye-bye tedium!


nhammm January 2, 2014 at 8:54 am

Simple. Going to make it now :D


Sarah February 18, 2015 at 9:44 am

I am really excited about this recipe, your personal endorsement of pickled garlic, and of course, THE JARS! ;) I have committed to a healing journey through Macrobiotics, and regular garlic tends to be too strong for me–my body actually “rejects” it. TMI! Yet, I crave garlic at times, which can be naturally antibacterial, which I am all for. Some certified Macrobiotic counselors would say that garlic is too aromatic for this way of eating, but I think it was “Everything Macrobiotic” that suggested pickled garlic as a good possibility of a replacement. The only thing was that there was no good recipe available, till I ran across this jewel! Thanks. I have the ingredients on-hand and will begin the process now! :)


Adrian Turcu April 12, 2015 at 6:11 am

Hi! Why do you have to boil the garlic? To reduce some of the pungency or is it a food safety thing?
Thank you!


giovanni July 20, 2016 at 10:15 am

yea why boil? thats what i want to know to there no real reason te boil not? it just lose some nutricions and the miso will ferment the garlic and take care of some bacteria and the taste will be stronger i am going for no boiled garlic


A Sydney Foodie August 7, 2017 at 4:08 am

I think the garlic is boiled to reduce the pickling time.


Lisa June 7, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Hi, great recipe I used to get a miso pickled garlic that I think had bonito flakes mixed in it? Have you ever seen this? If so could you suggest a proportion of flakes to add to my pickle? Thanks


Elise June 23, 2020 at 5:03 am

I used to eat this all the time when I lived in Japan and certainly it had bonito flakes it it, which added a really great smoky taste. You could buy it in almost any supermarket. Bliss.

Out of interest, what is 1/2 lb garlic cloves in terms of the number of garlic heads you need?

Thanks for the recipe. Will make today!


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