October 15, 2013

Japanese Pickled Ginger and Sushi at Home. Sort of...

Like many, one of my favorite meals out is sushi.  I have made (vegetarian) sushi at home, too, which is a lot of fun, but also an event.

When I'm wanting the flavor of sushi without the cost of going out or all the work, I make "Sushi Salad."  It satisfies my craving and is fairly easy to make.  It does call for a few specialty ingredients, like the pickled ginger that is a standard at sushi bars, which I tried making at home recently with very good results.

If you have a mandoline (I'm absolutely loving my new one!), Japanese Pickled Ginger is quite simple. Slicing the ginger paper thin is definitely the most difficult and time-consuming part, but it's certainly worth the effort.

I bought about a pound of ginger a few weeks ago at the Asian market with the intention of making the condiment, and I was lucky enough to find very fresh, young ginger at a good price.  I made a double recipe, which is a couple pints, and the ginger will keep for months in the refrigerator.

So, basically, I have a lot of home sushi projects to complete in the coming year.  For now, I will settle for my simple sushi salad.  The flavor and texture of the pickled ginger is so nice, though, and I may dream up other ways to use it.  At the very least, it make for a great pick-me-up and cook's snack while other ingredients are being prepped.

(adapted from The Joy of Pickling, by Linda Zeidrich)
  • 8 oz. fresh, peeled ginger, very thinly sliced
  • 1 t. sea salt (or pickling salt), plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 t. soy sauce

Bring a saucepan with about a quart of water to a boil.   Add ginger and return to boil.  Boil ginger for a few seconds and drain well in a colander.  Place ginger in a bowl and sprinkle very lightly with salt.  Toss to coat and pack into one pint or two half-pint jars.  These are quick fridge pickles and a loose pack will be fine.

In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, one teaspoon salt, sugar, and soy sauce to a simmer.  Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Pour hot mixture over ginger and cap the jars.  Store them in the refrigerator for at least two days before using. Ginger will keep for several months.

Of course, you can also find pickled ginger at an Asian grocery, but it will likely have MSG and pink food dye.  I won't judge you.

  • 1 1/2 cup rice - I like brown rice in this application
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 T. rice vinegar (again, unseasoned)
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. sesame seeds (I like the black ones for this, but I'm out of them at the moment)
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 T. Japanese Pickled Ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, julienned (or fine dice)
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and julienned (or fine dice)
  • 1 avocado, sliced thin
  • 2 t. wasabi powder
  • 3 T. water
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. ginger pickling brine
  • 1-2 sheets nori

Cook rice according to type and transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.  Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and stir until sugar and salt is dissolved.  Stir into cooked rice along with sesame seeds.  Stir in three tablespoons vinegar, oil, ginger, carrots, and cucumber.  Set aside.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine wasabi powder, water, soy sauce, and pickling brine. Set aside.

In serving bowl, place rice mixture and top with avocado.  Drizzle with wasabi mixture and strips of nori.  With the nori, I like to cut a sheet in thirds with kitchen shears, roll lengthwise, and cut crosswise with the shears over the salad.  Enjoy!

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