The Favorite Pickled Rhizome For Sushi
Eating sushi is an artful experience, with different tastes and textures in harmonious balance. Along with wasabi, ginger (gari) is ever present with your order. Some may not like it, but for those who do it serves both a flavorful as well as a practical presence. No meal at a sushi-ya is complete without a pile of gari.
Among its uses, ginger is used to cleanse the pallet between different rolls, allowing your mouth to be neutralized with the slight spicy heat of ginger. Ginger is the perfect sushi companion, allowing one to fully appreciate every nuance in the dish that is being enjoyed. It is also used as a garnish and is an essential element in sushi-ya presentations.
Ginger is a plant native to Asia which has been used for its culinary and medical property since time immemorial. The root (a rhizome, which is a special type of root) is pickled, preserving it for use in sushi and other meals. The pickled version is known as “gari,” and it has been commonly used not only as a delicious “in-between” flavor and garnish but also in order to quell stomach pains. Sushi lovers have often noted that they feel better and whole after a meal, and ginger could be a part of the equation.
Why This Pickled Delight Is So Present
Of course, it is natural to feel good after a satisfying and delicious meal, so it could be that the effects of ginger are overstated, though even foods like ginger ale are used for the same purpose. While the medicinal properties of the rhizome may be up for debate, the balance it creates with fresh, delicious sushi is unmistakable.
Ginger is pale yellow or pinkish when used in sushi, and will provide an artful hue for your presentations. This coloring is caused by the pickling process, which is done by marinating sweet young ginger in sushi and vinegar. This creates a naturally tender and sweet ingredient for use in your sushi presentations. It is best enjoyed in between rolls, as the tastes will be disharmonious when eaten in conjunction with a morsel of sushi.
This crunchy, slightly spicy, and robustly floral rhizome is the perfect sushi companion because it cleanses the palate and allows for a proper and full enjoyment of the myriad of delicate flavors found in sushi. While gari is perfect as an accompaniment to sushi, it is also quite a versatile ingredient and can also be enjoyed in stir fries, with noodles, or in salads. When eating ginger with sushi, it is only necessary to provide around 10 grams, or a third of an ounce with each presentation. Of course, ginger lovers may decide that more is necessary, and rightly so!
I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.