Ginger is so young and juicy at the moment, I’m making pickling a priority. Homemade pickled ginger refreshes, gets taste buds salivating and bites. Something very dreary must happen to the store bought stuff, which often tastes bland and only nibbles.
Gari (or pickled ginger) is traditionally eaten as a palate cleanser between sushi, sashimi or grilled meats, but I love using it as a last minute seasoning in many dishes, particularly those which incorporate ginger in other ways as well. Like a stir fry, where ginger’s been added with other aromatics early on, or in a miso or chicken soup, where ginger’s been cooked up in the stock, or in an asian salad, where fresh ginger’s been grated into a dressing.
This double addition I learnt in a Christine Manfield cooking class many years ago. She said that one way to create depth in cooking is to find ways to add one ingredient more than once to a dish. That way you will get certain flavour notes from it cooked, and others from it raw, and others from it pickled.
This gari recipe is from Christine Manfield, too. I think she’s wonderful, by the way. Her book, Spice, has been a favourite of mine for over a decade. Manfield complicates things, which a lot of cooks might not like. Some of her recipes have near a hundred ingredients in them, once you count all the stocks, sauces and spice mixes. But I think her over-layering turns a little magic into her food. Her pickled ginger is a small, but solid example of this.
Gari (Pickled Ginger)
- 300g green (ie, very fresh) ginger, peeled
- 350ml rice vinegar
- 25ml fish sauce (or sea salt to taste, if you want to keep this vegan)
- 50ml strained lime juice
- 25ml raw sugar syrup (bring equal quantities of raw sugar and water to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved)
Combine all ingredients accept the ginger in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, then take off the heat and let cool to room temperature. This is the pickling syrup. You don’t want it to be hot when it’s poured over the ginger.
Slice the ginger as finely as you can, either with a wide bladed cleaver, or with a mandolin. You want the pieces to be transparent and the texture of tissue paper. Pack the ginger into sterilised jars and pour over the pickling syrup to completely cover the ginger. Seal the jars, then refrigerate for at least a week before using, or for up to 3 months.