Japanese Pickled Ginger (Gari) Recipe - Viet World Kitchen (2024)

By Andrea Nguyen

We are in the season of young ginger. Tender, mildly spicy
and gorgeous to look at, the creamy hands are making their way to Asian
markets. I saw super beautiful ones in Oakland Chinatown last week but
refrained from buying because I was bound for the banh mi photo shoot. I said
to myself, “The next time you see young ginger, buy it to pickle.” Yesterday I
surprisingly found the ginger at my local hippie-dippy market. It was
organically grown, from Hawaii. The cashier had no idea what it was.

In Asian vernacular, there’s young and old ginger. The young
stuff has paper bits of translucent skin whereas the mature ginger is covered
by tan, dry skin. Most of the year, we’re all cooking with old ginger, whose
bite punches up many foods and warms our bodies. Young ginger can be eaten raw
– I’ve had Thai fermented sausage with raw ginger, which complements the
sausage flavor and functions as an antibacterial.

But there’s only so much young ginger I can eat. My main
method of using it is by pickling it Japanese style for what most of us recognize as sushi ginger (gari in Japanese).I enjoy it with sushi (obvious) but also mixed into sushi rice and stuffed into fried tofu pockets. It's a terrific side to grilled oily fish such as salmon or mackerel.


Japanese Pickled Ginger (Gari) Recipe - Viet World Kitchen (1)There are fabulous recipes
in cookbooks by Elizabeth Andoh and Hiroko Shimbo but this time around I used Karen
Solomon’s recipe from Asian Pickles:
Japan
. It’s currently sold as a $2.99 ebook and is part of her upcoming
book called – you guessed it, Asian
Pickles
– which will be released in its entirety in Spring 2014. Publishing
a book in parts is an interesting way to offer readers the option to buy the
chapter that they’re interested in.

I got the enhanced iBooks version that came
with audio pronunciations of the recipe titles and ingredients, which is
helpful if you’re not versed in Japanese food terms. Otherwise, the regular
ebook of Asian Pickles: Japan sold online
will be fine.



Karen lived in the Japan in the 1990s and writes with an infectious
verve. I bought two hands of ginger, about 1.5 times the amount she called for
so I simply did the math for the recipe below. Some things to note:

  • If you can’t find young ginger, use regular old
    ginger but peel it. During the blanching, let the ginger sit in the hot water
    for 45 to 60 seconds instead of the 20 seconds called for below.
  • Homemade pickled ginger may turn a blushing pink
    but not the torrid pink of storebought pickled ginger, which may have a little
    help from dye.
  • Use a mandoline or super sharp knife to cut the
    ginger. You need very thin pieces. I put my mandoline in a square baking pan
    (see photo above) to keep it in place and safely use it.
  • Don’t throw away the pickling brine. It’s
    delicious.
  • The dried kelp is my addition, a little umami
    trick I learned from Japanese food authority Elizabeth Andoh.

Karen’s recipes are fun, written without the burden of
bowing to tradition. As a non-native, she gives readers an undaunted take at
Asian foodways, opening the door as if to say, “What have you been waiting for?
Don’t be silly. Just dive in. I have.” You can’t lose with a $2.99 investment.
Along with the Japan e-booklet, there’s also an Indian, Korean, and Chinese
one.

Recipe

Japanese Pickled
Ginger

Gari

Yield: About 1 ½ cups

Ingredients

  • 9 to 10 ounces (270–300 g) young ginger
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 squares of dried kombu (kelp), each about the
    size of your thumbnail (optional)

Instructions

  1. Use an inverted spoon to scrape off the thin,
    paper bits from the ginger. Use a mandoline or very sharp knife to cut the
    ginger across the grain into super thin pieces. They should be nearly
    see-through.
  2. Toss the ginger with the 1 ½ tablespoons of
    sugar and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes to reduce its harshness.
  3. Meanwhile, partially fill a small saucepan with
    water. Ready a fine-mesh strainer and 2-cup (.5 liter) glass jar. In another
    saucepan, combine the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, vinega,r and kombu (if
    using). Set this stuff aside near the stove.
  4. About 10 minutes before the ginger finishes
    mellowing out, start the water pot going on the stove. When the ginger is done,
    add it all to the boiling water, stir and blanch for 20 seconds to further reduce
    the harshness. Drain in the mesh strainer but don’t rinse. Shake a few times to
    expel water, then put into the glass container.
  5. Bring the mixture of sugar and vinegar to a
    boil, give things a stir to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Then pour into the
    jar of ginger. Push down with chopsticks or a spoon to submerge. Cool, uncovered,
    then cap and refrigerate. Depending on the ginger, it may be ready to eat in 1
    to 3 days. Taste and see. Store refrigerated for months.

Adapted from Karen Solomon’s Asian
Pickles: Japan
(ebook edition, Ten Speed Press, 2012)

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Suzette

    Oh, this is awesome! I went out for sushi the other day and felt that I needed way more ginger to munch on! Thanks!

  2. Ram Jha

    great knowledge about indian masala...
    thanks for share...

  3. Lauren

    Do you sterilize your jar in any special way before hand?

  4. Claudia Reali

    Mine haven't turned pink and the flavor is too strong.
    Maybe I should have cut thinner slices? Or boiled them longer?
    I think it was pretty fresh ginger.
    Thanks!

  5. Andrea Nguyen

    Nope, because I stick the jar in the fridge. No sterilization needed.

  6. Andrea Nguyen

    Both, Claudia. Since it's already made, just keep them longer before you eat the ginger. It mellows over time.

  7. Zzbyrd

    What can you make with the brine?

Japanese Pickled Ginger (Gari) Recipe - Viet World Kitchen (2024)

FAQs

Is pickled ginger gari good for you? ›

Ginger in particular stimulates circulation, reduces nausea and is an anti-inflammatory herb. Fermented foods are essential in a healthy diet, and they can be fun and easy to make yourself. Gari is a delicious and long lasting ginger pickle, with no fake pink colouring!

What is the difference between shoga and gari? ›

Color: Beni shoga is bright red in color, and gari is light pink. Flavor: Beni shoga has a sharp, sour flavor since it is made with umeboshi vinegar. Gari, which is often served with sushi and sashimi, is made with rice vinegar and sugar and is sweeter than beni shoga.

What is gari in Japanese? ›

Gari (ガリ) is a type of tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables). It is made from sweet, thinly sliced ginger that has been marinated in a solution of sugar and vinegar. Younger ginger is generally preferred for gari because of its tender flesh and natural sweetness.

Does Japanese pickled ginger go bad? ›

With proper storage, pickled ginger can last up to a year without significant degradation in quality. It's important to keep it in an airtight container within the refrigerator to maintain its flavor and prevent spoilage.

Can you have too much pickled ginger? ›

Don't consume more than 4 grams of ginger in any given day in any form. People with heart conditions, diabetes, and gallstones should especially talk with their doctor before taking ginger as a supplement.

Is pickled ginger good for high cholesterol? ›

Potential Pain Relief: Ginger relieves your pain like menstrual pain or osteoarthritis. Blood Sugar Regulation: It stabilizes blood sugar levels according to some studies. So, it is good for the individual with diabetes. Cardiometabolic Support: It reduces cholesterol levels and keeps your heart healthy.

How long does gari ginger last? ›

Keep the pickled ginger in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one year. Always use clean utensils to remove the pickled ginger from the jar to avoid contamination and to help them keep for a long time.

Is pickled ginger better than raw ginger? ›

Pickled ginger can be a flavourful, low-calorie addition to your diet. Be aware of the salt and sugar used to pickle and preserve it, though, and opt for versions that may be lower in these additives. Or have fresh ginger root to enjoy all of its benefits - without the added salt or sugar.

Why is gari pink? ›

Pink ginger is common ginger that has been pickled, giving it a light pink color. Gari is made from common ginger that has been pickled in a mixture of sugar, salt, rice vinegar, and sometimes dashi, a Japanese stock.

What is the name of gari in English? ›

In Ghana, we call it Gari. How do you call this in your local dialect? Gari is a FARINA made from cassava.

Which type of food pickled popular in Japanese cuisine is gari? ›

Pickled ginger is called gari or amazu shoga in Japanese. It's served with sushi or sashimi and helps enhance the flavors and clear your taste buds. It's also great with Century Eggs, a Chinese delicacy.

What do we call gari in English food? ›

Gari, also spelled as garri, garry or tapioca, depending on where it is produced, is a pre-gelatinized, fine to coarse granular flour made from fermented cassava.

How do you eat Japanese pickled ginger? ›

It's served with sushi or sashimi; the ginger's spiciness and sweet vinegar flavor cleanse the palate in between eating different types of sushi, allowing you to enjoy the taste of different kinds of fish and rolls. Gari is also great with century eggs, which are a Chinese delicacy.

Why is Japanese pickled ginger red? ›

Details. “Benishoga” (pickled red ginger) is a variety of Japanese pickled vegetables made from ginger, salt, apricot vinegar, and sugar, with the red coloring coming from the apricot vinegar.

Why do Japanese eat pickled ginger? ›

Pickled ginger is believed to be a Japanese tradition that helps keep flavors pure. Pickled ginger is recommended if you are switching between sushi types. Pickled ginger is spicy and acidic, which can help to reduce the intensity of seafood. Gari's natural sweetness and juiciness balance the fishy flavor of raw fish.

What are the health benefits of fermented ginger? ›

Fermenting garlic and ginger can enhance their already numerous health benefits. As garlic and ginger go through the fermentation process, the number of probiotic bacteria in them increases. Consuming probiotic bacteria has many benefits including improving your digestive system and immune system.

What is the point of pickled ginger? ›

Pickled ginger is mainly used to cleanse the palate. In ancient times, gari was used for its antimicrobial properties. Raw seafood is often the main ingredient in traditional sushi.

Is jarred ginger good for you? ›

Unfortunately, when buying garlic and ginger in a jar, there's usually added ingredients like sugar, salt and other preservatives. And if you're trying to steer clear of such food groups, sadly, that little jar of what you thought was just innocent seasoning isn't as wholesome as you thought.

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