Pickled ginger with orange recipe

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

February 23rd, 2011


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Yes, pickled ginger, I know you’re supposed to be a modest accompaniment to sushi, a simple palate cleanser to eat between pieces. Just a background side dish, out of the spotlight. But if that’s all you want to be, why are you so deliciously refreshing, so crunchy? Why so snackable, straight out of the jar? You also perk up a chicken or turkey sandwich and, chopped, help make a zippy salad dressing. Can you blame me for wanting to make pickled ginger at home?

There are many, many online recipes for traditional pickled ginger (also known as sushi ginger, or gari), all fairly similar. I find some too sweet and salty–perhaps because I do like to eat it more like a vegetable than a sushi condiment–so I’ve used those ingredients with a light hand in this recipe. That doesn’t seem to affect the ginger’s lifespan in the fridge: It will keep several weeks, at least. Longer than that I can’t tell you because it gets eaten too quickly. Reducing the salt also adds to its versatility, since it can be used in sweet dishes: I’ve added chopped pickled ginger to cookie dough, for example. In most recipes, the pink colour of sushi ginger comes from a few drops of red food colouring. A more traditional source is shisho, a herb also known as perilla. I left both out.

I was in the mood to play with the basic recipe, so I included some orange juice and zest. Let me know if you like the addition as much as I do.

Pickled ginger with orange

1/2 lb fresh ginger, peeled (see Tips, below) (250 g)
1/2 tbsp salt (7 ml)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (60 ml)
grated zest of one orange
3/4  cup rice vinegar (175 ml)
2 tbsp sugar (30 ml)

1. Slice the ginger as thinly as possible (see Tips, below). In a glass or ceramic bowl, toss with the salt and leave for a few hours or overnight. Place the ginger in a mesh strainer and squeeze to remove excess liquid. (Taste a little; if it seems much too salty for your taste, rinse very briefly under running water.)

2. In a small saucepan, bring orange juice to a boil and reduce to 1/2 its volume. Add remaining ingredients and heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves.

3. Pack ginger into a clean jar and add orange-vinegar brine to cover ginger. Store in refrigerator, where it will keep for several weeks.

Tips: The easiest way to peel ginger is with a spoon, but this does leave a slightly rough surface which gives the slices a bit of a ragged edge. Sushi chefs use a knife to peel the ginger and cut off any bumps before slicing. Unless your knife skills are up to sushi level, your best bet to get paper-thin, even slices is by using a mandoline.

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Martin Zibauer