Most commercial gari is full of additives, so I make a big batch in the summer from our field ginger. Late-season ginger will not show the characteristically lovely pink of new ginger. Nonetheless, the pickles are tasty as a palate cleanser or a quick bright bite before dinner — and of course to accompany sushi.
- 2 lb (1 kg) fresh summer ginger roots
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 3 cups (750 ml) brown rice vinegar
- 2 cups (400 g) organic granulated sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Scrape off the ginger peel by running the edge of an upside-down spoon across the surface. Slice each root as thinly as possible with a razor-sharp knife or mandoline, trying to maintain the interesting natural shape of the ginger. Place the slices in a medium-sized bowl. When you have cut up about half of the ginger, toss in half of the salt and massage gently with your hands to distribute. Let sit for an hour or so and continue cutting the second half of the ginger (follow the same steps for the second half as you followed for the first; salting the first half while you cut the second helps avoid any discoloration of the roots).
After the first half of the ginger has rested in the salt for an hour, lift the slices out from any accumulated liquid and lay out flat on half of a clean kitchen towel (taking care not to break the shapes). Fold the other half of the towel on top of the ginger and press gently to wick out any lingering saltwater. Repeat this step with a second clean kitchen towel after you have finished cutting up and salting the second half of the ginger. Leave the second half of the ginger in the towel for 10 minutes, then drop all of the ginger slices into a medium-sized bowl.
Heat the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has reached a slow boil. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over the squeezed salted ginger slices. Let the vinegared ginger cool naturally before pouring into a clean jar and storing in the refrigerator for several months or more.
From Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Photography by Kenji Miura/Andrews McMeel Publishing.