Japanese pickled ginger (called “Gari”) is a very easy to prepare and deliciously healthy condiment, commonly served in sushi restaurants.
Ginger roots are in season in early summer. The young roots have a tender flesh and natural sweetness, with strong immune-boosting properties. They can also help prevent food poisoning and uneasiness of the stomach (nausea).
The yellowish sliced roots turn a pretty pink (like cherry blossoms) as you pour the marinade (see below) over them.
You can buy Gari prepared from the store. However, you should check the label, since many “pink” commercial varieties are artificially colored.
Ginger (preferably newly harvested young ones) – 500g
For Sweet and Sour marinade:
Water – 500ml (2½ cups)
Vinegar – 400ml (2 cups)
Sugar – 300g (1½) cups
Salt – 30g (1½tbs)
How to Prepare
- Peel the skin of ginger (or scrape off using a spoon) and slice very, very thin. You can also use a good knife or a slicer.
- Boil water in a large pan and blanch the sliced ginger for 10-20 seconds.
- If you cannot find the young ginger, use the regular ones. In this case, peel the skin well and blanch a little longer, say a minute or so instead of 10-20 seconds.
- Drain and wash well under fresh water.
- Prepare the sweet and sour marinade:
- Stir all of the marinade ingredients in a small pan over low heat and bring it to a boil and make sure sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Place the gingers in a container/jar and pour the marinade mix over the ginger.
- Wait about 3 hours or more before serving.
How to Eat
Gari is a wonderful palate cleanser (much like a sorbet.) You do not eat Gari like an appetizer, nor you should put it on top of your sushi (a common mistake!)
The proper way of having Gari at a sushi-bar or at a table is to take one or two slices between different pieces of sushi or fish. It helps “cleanse” your palate so you can fully appreciate the subtle differences in tastes of different foods you eat.