Sushi is Japanese food by tradition, but it is currently enjoyed by cultures around the world. In the last 20 years, Americans have taken a strong liking to the cuisine, and it can be found in both metropolitan and suburban neighborhoods with ease. While people may use the word “sushi” when referring to raw fish, the term actually refers to seasoned cooked rice. This sushi rice is commonly served with raw fish, but this is by no means the rule. Sushi can be served with a number of toppings and fillings, including seafood, vegetables, and spicy wasabi paste. There are many names for types of sushi, depending on the way it is prepared.
Nigiri sushi is hand-formed sushi made by pressing cooked rice into oblong shapes and topping it with raw seafood and wasabi paste. Maki sushi is the more recognizable type of sushi, where rice and other fillings are rolled inside a nori seaweed sheet and cut into thick, bite-sized pieces. A much lesser known sushi, inari sushi, is a pouch of deep-fried tofu that has been stuffed with sushi rice and other fillings like shrimp or cucumbers. All types of sushi are commonly served with traditional soy sauce and pickled ginger, which aid in digestion.
How to make Sushi Ginger
Pickled ginger, or sushi ginger, is called gari or shin-shoga no amazu-zuki in Japanese. It's served with sushi or sashimi and eaten between different kinds of sushi. The ginger’s spiciness and sweet vinegar flavor cleanse the palate in between eating different pieces of sushi, allowing you to enjoy different kinds of fish and rolls. It's also great with century eggs -- a Chinese delicacy.
You can find prepared pickled ginger in pink or white at most Asian markets but here's a simple recipe to make your own.
Only Use Young Ginger
Young ginger is harvested and sold in summer. It has a mild ginger flavor and a fine fleshy texture that is tender, unlike matured ginger usually used for cooking. Look for ginger with the pinkish tips in an Asian grocery store. This pink pigment makes the pickled ginger naturally pink. Many commercially produced and sold pickled ginger are artificially dyed, but you should be able to find some brands that avoid the artificial coloring.
The young ginger’s skin is very thin and easy to peel with fingers or a spoon. It’s thinly sliced and then marinated in sugar and vinegar mixture.
What You'll Need
2 lbs. fresh young ginger (shin shoga)
2 tsp. salt
3 cups rice vinegar
2 cups sugar
How to Make It
Wash young ginger root and with a spoon, scrape off any brown spots. Then scrape off all the skin with a scraper.
Slice the ginger thinly and salt the slices.
Leave salted ginger slices in a bowl for about 1 hour.
Dry the ginger slices with paper towels and put them in a sterilized, heat-resistant container or jar.
Mix rice vinegar and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil until the strong vinegar aroma has evaporated.
Pour the hot mixture of vinegar and sugar over the ginger slices. If you want to keep it spicy, take it out around 1 minute. Otherwise, 2 to 3 minutes works well.
Drain the slices in a sieve and let them cool by placing them on a paper towel in a single layer. Pickled ginger changes its color to light pink. (If you are using old ginger, it might not turn pink naturally.)
With clean hands, squeeze the liquid out of the slices and place them in the jar. Cover the jar and store it in the refrigerator. The pickled ginger will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
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