from one generation to the next
The versatility of ginger makes it THE most useful aromatic in my kitchen. Dried, ground and combined with deep earthy sweetness of molasses, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg I use it to adds depth and bite to sweet pastries. Both candied and preserved ginger add zing and zest to desserts, but it’s equally good chocolate coated for a luxury treat. Ginger beer, ginger wine, ginger cordial, ginger tisane, ginger jam and marmalade, the flavour of ginger is a loved universally.
Asian cuisines use ginger combined with chilli, garlic, lemongrass, coriander root, lime leaf, spring onion and salty sauces as the base cooking medium for stir fried, curries, braises and simple steamed dishes. Ginger can be used subtly to add a general depth of flavour to other ingredients, but when used generously, ginger’s assertive perfumed notes ask to be noticed.
Sashimi and sushi seem incomplete to me without a garnish of pickled ginger. The commercial pink variety of pickled ginger is commonly available in Australia. Very young ginger will turn pink when it comes into contact with the pickling liquid but the commercial product is artificially coloured and very, very sweet.
Ginger is very simple to pickle and keeps indefinitely. I use it a lot in summer, not only for sushi and sashimi, but in fresh crunchy vegetable salads, to add interest to poached chicken, smoked trout and salmon, with cucumber and daikon, soba noodles and sesame. The remaining liquid can be used to dress salad with an Asian influence.
When pickling ginger, for more enjoyable eating, choose ginger that is young, before it becomes fibrous and hot.
250g fresh young ginger
2 level teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup white caster sugar
Choose a jar with a plastic lined lid of approx 500ml capacity.
Wash the jar and lid in hot soapy water. Put the hot wet jar in the oven at 120C for 30 minutes.
Peel the ginger with a paring knife, then using a mandolin, finely cut it across the fibre into very thin slices.
Put the ginger into a non reactive bowl, sprinkle it with the salt and allow to rest for 30 minutes. The salt will draw out excess moisture.
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and water in a small pot.
Warm the mixture over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat, bring the solution to the boil then turn off the heat immediately.
Drain the ginger, squeezing it gently with your hands, then tip the ginger into the vinegar.
Stir the ginger around a few times using tongs to dissolve the salt. Pack the ginger slices into the hot jar.
Pour the hot vinegar over the top then seal immediately. A vacuum will form as the ginger cools.
Invert the jar a few times to remove any air bubbles.
Refrigerate when cold.
The pickled ginger will be ready in 24 hours and once opened, will keep for a couple of months in the fridge.