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Quick Pickle II: Ginger

Ginger 1When ethnic cuisines are exported, mass-marketed, and made available for home delivery here in North America (“pizza-fication” perhaps?) their quality usually suffers in two ways: Shortcuts are taken in technique and inferior ingredients are used.   Thankfully, it is tough to get a master sushi chef if you’re only willing to pay minimum wage (I imagine) but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be nearly as difficult to get discount wasabi and pickled ginger.

A quick google search unearthed the fact that pickled ginger is simply thinly sliced ginger salted to draw out some of its moisture and then pickled in a mixture of vinegar and sugar (in a ratio of 3:2 by volume).

How can this be useful?  Well, I admit that I have never made sushi at home and delivery sushi (especially from the very good Kokyo; try the Johnny Special Roll) almost always comes with ample pickled ginger.  A couple slices of this ginger straight from the jar is an excellent “pre-snack” because it gives the palate something to do and settles the stomach while I decide whether I’m actually hungry or not.  Speaking of settling the stomach, ginger is a proven (by the Mythbusters so I won’t bother finding a link) treatment for motion sickness so this jar sounds like a great addition to the hangover remedy kit.

What I’m looking forward to most about this experiment is saving the pickling liquid and using it for asian sauces and dressings.  I imagine that carrots, shredded napa cabbage, snow peas and a handful of peanuts would taste great with a dressing of oil and gingery-sweet vinegar drizzled on them.

Quick Pickled Ginger

  • A couple thumb-sized pieces of ginger
  • 3/4 C rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1.5 TB kosher salt
  1. Peel ginger using the teaspoon method.  This involves cutting the ginger so that it has a flat side, putting the ginger on a cutting board flat-side down (see top picture), and scraping the skin off using the edge of a teaspoon.
  2. Using a chef’s knife, mandolin, or kyocera-type handheld slicer slice the ginger as thinly as possible.  Be careful of your fingers if using a slicer–trust me.

    Sliced ginger sprinkled with salt.

    Sliced ginger sprinkled with salt.

  3. Sprinkle salt on sliced ginger and let stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.  Remove moisture and excess salt from the surface of the sliced ginger by patting it with paper towels.  
  4. Heat rice wine vinegar and sugar on medium-high heat until it almost boils.  Don’t walk away from a pot of (near) boiling vinegar because vinegar steam has a very strong odour that stinks up an apartment for days–again, trust me.

    Ginger awaits the pickling vinegar

    Ginger awaits the pickling vinegar

  5. Fill a 250 mL Mason jar with the sliced ginger and pour in enough sugar-vinegar mixture to cover (there may be some extra).  Refrigerate for at least a couple of days before enjoying; the separate sweet sugar and hot ginger flavours will combine and mellow.  Remember that this is a quick (non-preserved) pickle that must be refrigerated and will not last longer than a few weeks.

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  1. [...] can be a year-round activity even here in Canada.  Last winter I pickled jalapenos, preserved ginger and limes (separately), and made marmalade.  Truthfully though, the preserving adventures reach [...]

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