In my enthusiasm for gari—the pickled ginger served alongside sushi—I discovered that not only is the ginger delicious, the vinegar in which the ginger is pickled is, too, It takes on a spectacular ginger-infused flavor, which I like to use in salad dressing, sauces, on fish...any place you'd use ordinary vinegar. Before I started experimenting with it, I'd never seen gari made with any vinegar other than rice vinegar, but it became clear that you can make balsamic gari, raspberry gari, tarragon white wine gari, ad infinitum. They're all good, and all very different. The formula is the same for all: one part vinegar added to one part shaved fresh ginger, plus a little sweetener.
1 cup very thinly sliced (shaved) fresh ginger
1/2 cup black raspberry vinegar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Set a small saucepan of water to boil. Peel the ginger and, with a mandoline, slice it very thinly until you have one cup of it (one large root will accomplish this). Blanch in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to a jar big enough to comfortably hold it. Pour the vinegars and maple syrup into the saucepan, stir, bring to a simmer, and pour into the jar. Let cool, and place in the refrigerator. Keeps forever (well, at least a month).
Caveat: The high sugar content of balsamic makes it slightly different than other vinegars; you may want to use less sweetener when using it.
The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen
by Eric Gower
Hardcover, 112 pages
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created April 2004
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