In preparation of tonight's up coming sushi making night I have planned with a couple of friends, I decided to make my own pickled ginger. By co-incidence, I had bought a food magazine this week and it just so happened to have a recipe for pickled ginger. Really random as I had already planned the sushi night before I even saw the magazine and I have never seen a recipe before for homemade pickled ginger. For those of you less familiar with sushi, every order is served with 2 things, wasabi and pickled ginger. Wasabi is a very hot, usually bright green, paste made from a type of horseradish. It is one of the few food on this planet that I have not acquired a taste for. It looks fairly innocent but beware, even a pin head sized sampling will take off at least a few tastebuds and clear out your sinuses, even if they aren't blocked. The pickled ginger, usually dyed pink, is a palate cleanser for between each type of sushi and this I love. A few sushi places I go to do use the natural pickled ginger (which can naturally have a pinkish hue due to the rice vinegar reaction) but many still used the dyed pink stuff for aesthetics, I presume.
The ingredient list is short but the process was quite involved and probably took me an hour from start to end.
Homemade Pickled Ginger
1 lb ginger root
2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tbs table salt
(you will also need canning jars)
1) sterilize jars (see below for directions)
2) peel and thinly slice ginger
3) mix sugar, vinegar and salt in a pan and dissolve over med heat. Bring to boil and when boiling, remove from heat and cover.
4) bring large pot of water to boil. When boiling add ginger for 30 seconds to soften. Drain well in colander.
5) place ginger in jars, pour syrup over top and let cool with lids on. Refrigerate when cooled.
First thing was to sterilize the mason/canning jars. This requires boiling the jars in a large pan of water for 10 minutes. Seasoned canners (not me) apparently have a rack that fits into the pan so the jars don't touch the bottom but I did not have this so I used my metal vegetable steamer and put it on the bottom of the pan and it worked fine although I kept my distance from the stove just in case something exploded.
While that was busily sterilising away all bacteria known to man, I got to work peeling the ginger. This is quite a task. I already learned a couple of years ago that using a metal teaspoon is the best tool for peeling ginger while not losing too much ginger and not losing any knuckle skin from a vegetable peeler. I had purchased 2 large roots of ginger, I don't know if it was 1lb in weight, probably about 1/2lb but it was a lot to peel and whose measuring? I started with the first piece and while the spoon worked, it was messy as all the tiny shards of ginger peel stuck to everything. My thumbs and hand started to ache after a few minutes but I got it done, all the while seriously contemplating if doing the second root was necessary and whether an industrial machine existed that could peel ginger root efficiently.
After peeling came slicing. It is supposed to be very thinly sliced, paper thin. I had a mandolin (not a very good one although very sharp still) and a vegetable peeler. I started with the mandolin. Way too thick and I was terrified of slicing off a finger so I switched to the handheld peeler which made for a much thinner slice but also caught my knuckles a couple of times in the process. Apparently it's easier to peel myself than it is to slice ginger.
Exhausted after peeling and slicing one root, I set to work on the second one and got yet another knuckle scrape. Clearly not at peak focus today.
I had amassed a big pile of sliced ginger varying in thickness from paper thin to doorstep thick but I was proud of myself.
I then created the canning liquid syrup in a pan and brought to a boil, covered and remove from heat.
I then boiled another large pan of water. This recipe uses a lot of large pans, I did not have enough so I used my Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish for this one. I then added the ginger and softened for 30 seconds before draining.
I filled the jars with the ginger, poured on the syrup and voila! It's now in the fridge awaiting the guinea pigs (MM and D). I mean "the tasters".