Sushi Ginger and Pickled Ginger have a lot in common. As a matter of fact, they are one and the same thing. They are typically made by slicing young ginger very thin, and then pickling it in a solution of vinegar and sugar.
To make it yourself, see the pickled ginger recipe here.
Sushi ginger (or Gari) is usually meant to be eaten between bites of sushi to help cleanse the pallet. This, along with green tea, does do a pretty good job of preparing the taste buds for the next bite of sushi or sashimi.
You can actually relate this process to eating a cracker before switching to a different wine or during wine tasting sessions where many wines are being sampled.
The act of cleansing the pallet --- whether it is done with sushi ginger for sushi, crackers for wine, or milk for hot or spicy food --- has the effect of actually neutralizing the pallet and removes the chance of encountering competing food flavors; enhancing the overall food and drink tasting experience.
(If you want to know more about how to eat sushi ginger with your sushi or sashimi then visit Eating your Sushi here.)
Sushi ginger is preferably made with
young ginger because it is sweeter, more tender and tends to turn
slightly pink when pickled (making it look more tasty too I think
More mature ginger generally won't turn this shade of pink, in which case manufacturers may add either Ponceau 4R (a red azo dye) or beet juice to the intensify the pink color.
They don't always use the dye however, as I actually have a container of ginger in my refrigerator right now that is still of a natural light brown color with no pink tint in it at all.
There is a lesson to be learned here though.
If there is no pink tint to the sushi ginger at all we know that the ginger was not colored and is probably not young ginger, but rather older more mature ginger.
If you want to eat only young and tender sushi ginger or pickled ginger then you would want to pass on this one.
Picking out the best Sushi Ginger
Look at the image above on the left.
If the ginger is a deep red, then you know that the sushi ginger was colored or tinted. This could be young ginger, but it also could be mature ginger that has been colored to make it look more attractive and tasty :-)
Now look at the sushi ginger above on the right.
Notice that it is a light pink. Given both choices, I would choose the one on the right over the deeper red one (image on the left).
It would be the one in my estimation having the best chance of being the young, sweet, tasty sushi ginger that you want to eat with your delicate sushi.
Now this is not fool proof. Just process of elimination combined with an educated guess.
If you're looking for some and don't wanna get out of the house, you can find a good selection of pickled ginger here at Amazon.
Next, we will talk a little about ginger (root mainly) in general to appease those that don't know much about it and are just interested in knowing more.
Ginger or ginger root is the Rhizome (root mass) of the plant Zingiber officinale. It belongs to the family of plants known as Zingiberaceae which also includes galangal, cardamom, and tumeric.
Cultivation of it began in south asia and later spread to east africa and the caribbean.
How and where Ginger is grown
Ginger grows best in warm climates and is often used in the landscaping of subtropical homes. It produces bunches of pink and white flower buds that later bloom into yellow flowers.
It grows to about 3 to 4 feet tall and the roots are normally gathered when the stalk withers after which it is scalded or washed and scraped to keep it from sprouting.
Food uses for Ginger
Ginger has long been used in all types of cooking in cultures all over the world.
For instance, in the western world it is used in many sweet dishes from ginger bread and ginger cookies to ginger ale.
In Japan it is used to make Gari (sushi ginger), is grated and sprinkled raw over tofu and noodles, and is also used to make a candy called shago no sato zuke.
In Nepal, it is one of the main ingredients used in making curry.
And on the island of Corfu, Greece it is used to make a ginger beer called tsitsibira.
In my house, I use it as one of my "secret" ingredients in meatloaf (not a secret anymore though, huh...).
Yep, you heard me right. Meatloaf. It gives meatloaf an amazing flavor that is hard to describe. Most people can't figure out what it is. Try it and you'll be amazed!
So. As you can see, ginger is used all over the world in almost every way imaginable.
Truly a flexible root with lots of culinary applications.
Food is not the only thing Ginger excels at...
Rumor has it that it can also give you quite the health boost.
Check out the next section to find out if the rumors are true!
It has long been believed that ginger provides many beneficial medicinal advantages from aiding digestion, to preventing skin cancer, to eliminating nausea.
As a matter of fact, the Chinese prescribed ginger as a remedy for digestive issues over 3,000 years ago. And for centuries, the Ayurvedic tradition in Tibet and India used ginger to treat inflammatory joint diseases including arthritis and rheumatism.
But wait a minute. I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
There is so much evidence, with a little history and folk lore mixed in for good measure, that this discussion should be taken a little more slowly; in bite sized pieces.
So, follow me...
Ginger Aids the Digestive System
You see it in books and all over the internet all the time: Ginger helps with digestion. Well it looks like preliminary medical research is starting to support the claim that ginger actually does help with digestion.
There looks to be 9 identified compounds found in ginger that may actually bind to human serotonin receptors which may influence gastrointestinal function.
This may also be partially due to the assistance of volatile oils (zingerone, ginerols, and shogoals) that are present in ginger that increases the fluid flow of the gastrointestinal tract.
Throw in that ginger also tends to stimulate the production of saliva, and it looks like ginger may be the best natural road to a happy and healthy gut system that there is. ("gut system" being a medical term just coined by me during the creation and writing of this topic...:-)
Ginger's use in Treating Nausea
In several studies, ginger was found to be more effective in treating nausea induced by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy than a placebo. It was not found to be more effective however, in post-operative nausea.
And compared to over-the-counter motion sickness drugs ginger may provide superior relief to the often felt effects of dizziness, cold sweats, and upset stomach with the added benefit of being all natural, safe and side effect free.
Ginger in other Studies
And if those two examples weren't enough to convince you, here are several more studies to consider when looking for the health benefits of ginger:
Wow. Convinced yet? No? Keep reading then...
Ginger in Folk Medicine
Ginger has been used in folk medicine for a lot longer than it has been used in the practice of medicine. And any discussion on the uses of ginger for treating ailments would be incomplete without mentioning at least some of its uses in folk medicine.
Traditionally, this medical form of ginger was called Jamaica ginger and was used to treat indigestion, relief of gas, slow motility, constipation, and colic.
Tea brewed from ginger is used as a common remedy for colds.
Ginger has been used to treat ailments for thousands of years by cultures all over the word. It is one of the few foods that has withstood the test of time and one that is still being used today to treat the same ailments it was used to treat centuries and sometimes millenia ago.
The difference between then and now, is that now science and medicine are starting to support what some cultures have already known for hundreds or even thousands of years --- That ginger is indeed, as close to a cure all super root that we may ever discover.
1/2 lb. young ginger root (shin shoga) if you can get it
6 Tbsp sugar
1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
Making Pickled Ginger
1. Peel the ginger root with a vegetable peeler or use a spoon to scrape off the skin
2. Slice the ginger root as thinly as possible. Paper thin would be ideal, but definitely not thicker than 1/16 inch thick.
3. Place the sliced ginger in a bowl and sprinkle salt over it. Mix well and let sit for 1 hour.
4. Put the ginger slices in a sterilized container or jar.
5. Put the rice vinegar and sugar in a 2 qt. pot and stir until sugar is dissolved.
6. Bring the vinegar and sugar mixture to a boil.
7. Pour the mixture into the jar and allow it to cool.
8. Put the lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator.
The ginger will turn slightly pink if it was young ginger. If not, then it was older ginger, but it will still taste good.
And there you have it!
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