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gari (Pickled ginger)

Gari, best known here as ‘sushi ginger’ is not something I ever imagined you could make at home. The incredibly fine, slippery shreds, the ridiculous pink colour, all suggested a highly processed product. Even when I got the Asian pickles book mentioned below, and saw how short the list of ingredients was, I couldn’t quite imagine how the tough fibrous ginger I was used to labouriously chopping could become these beautiful slices.

slice ginger very thinly on a mandolin

Cue my discovery of new season ginger! I’m all about seasonal cooking, so I’m embarrassed to think about how long it took me to realise that ginger has seasons too! To be fair, it didn’t used to be sold as as commonly as the shelf life is much shorter, but is now usually available in autumn, with mature ginger harvested through winter. If you look at the picture above you can see the difference – the thin flaky skin, pale, semi-translucent colour, and pink tips on the roots are quite different from the brown skin, and opaque, yellow flesh of mature ginger.

And the colour? The picture above is of the sliced salted ginger in the saucepan, and you can clearly see the pinkish tinge. After blanching in boiling water, you may be surprised, as I was, to see it change to a rather murky grey-yellow. I was disappointed of course, but popped it in the jar with the vinegar and sugar, and as if by magic, the next morning it was even pinker! The colour actually improves over a few days as you can see in the picture at top.

If you’ve missed the season for new ginger, or can’t get it where you are, the picture below is a jar of gari next to a jar of another pickled ginger – beni shoga. This pickle can be made with ginger all year round as you chop it in the food processor…more on that soon!

sushi ginger (gari) and red pickled ginger (beni shoga)

Gari (pickled ginger)

Adapted slightly from a recipe in Asian Pickles

  • 500g new season ginger
  • 195g white sugar
  • 2 Tbs plus 1 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 270ml rice vinegar

Peel the ginger. With new season ginger you will find the skin is so thin it can almost be rubbed off, with any tough bits scraped with the edge of a teaspoon. Use a mandolin, as above, to slice the ginger very thinly across the grain.

Combine the sliced ginger with 45g of the sugar and the salt in a bowl. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Boil a small saucepan of water, add the ginger, and stir for 45 seconds. Strain and add to a large (about 1L capacity) sterilised jar.

Combine the remaining 150g of sugar with the vinegar in the saucepan, bring to the boil, and pour over the ginger, pushing the ginger under the liquid. Seal the jar and leave for 24hrs before refrigerating. I find it lasts at least a year in the fridge.