Why Is Ginger Served with Sushi?

September 21, 2018

Have you ever ordered a fresh plate of delicious sushi and wondered what that slightly pink heap of ginger is doing there? Or, have you ever draped a piece of said ginger over your California roll before swallowing it down in a single bite?

Gari, commonly called sushi ginger, is a special type of pickled ginger that’s served as a palate cleanser with most types of sushi. Learning about what gari is, what it’s used for and how it’s made can help you get the most out of your sushi plate next time you go to your favorite sushi restaurant in Phoenix, AZ.

Defining gari

Gari is thinly sliced young ginger that’s been marinated in a combination of both sugar and vinegar. Young ginger is used in the production of gari, because it’s more tender and more sweet—gari doesn’t have the same spicy bite as fully matured ginger root. During the pickling process, gari acquires a slightly yellow to pink tinge, depending on the brining solution used, the age and quality of the ginger and more.

Commercially produced ginger may be a more vibrant pink—this is often the result of food coloring. Traditionally produced or homemade gari should only appear to be slightly pink.

Eating gari with sushi

Gari is traditionally eaten between different pieces of sushi. Its primary function is to serve as a palate cleanser. Sushi chefs view each piece of sushi that they create as a unique piece of art to be appreciated individually—thus, the gari is used to help the taste buds differentiate between different rolls.

In fact, at many formal sushi restaurants, it may be considered a faux pas to consume gari on top of a piece of freshly made sushi. However, the practice of eating gari on top of a sushi roll is now seen as commonplace, and should be fine at more casual establishments.

Because gari is pickled ginger, it has light antimicrobial properties. This means that it may act as a useful disinfectant when consuming raw food.

Making gari

One of the best ways to learn about a new food is to try to make it yourself. If you’d like to try creating your own gari at home, simply combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup shaved baby ginger
  • ½ cup fruit vinegar (apple cider vinegar, or plum wine vinegar, is best suited for this step)
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that the ginger is shaved very thinly. Blanch the ginger in boiling water, and then move it to a pickling jar. Mix in the vinegars and honey, and seal the jar. The gari is ready to eat immediately, but its flavor improves with time.

To learn more about gari or to sample some for yourself, alongside some delicious sushi, visit PURE Sushi Colony. We’re proud to be one of the finest sushi restaurants in Phoenix, AZ. Visit us during our happy hour to sample a wide range of our favorite dishes and rolls.

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