What is Gari?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
One type of gari is made from cassava.
One type of gari is made from cassava.

Gari is one of many different types of popular pickled vegetables, or tsukemono, in Japanese cuisine. Also known as sushi ginger, gari consists of thin slices of young ginger plant known as shin shoga that have been soaked in a solution of sugar and vinegar. These pink slices of ginger may be eaten alone or as condiments.

Most people who eat gari do so in between pieces of sushi. It is considered a palate cleanser, and clears the taste of the previous piece of sushi so the diner may completely experience the taste of the next piece. It is also said to help enhance the flavors of sushi. Some people simply eat gari at the end of a meal in order to clean the palate for a fresh taste in the mouth.

This type of pickled ginger is not meant to be used in sushi preparation. It is also not considered suitable for other hand rolled foods. It is typically consumed alone.

Some people eat gari with sushi.
Some people eat gari with sushi.

To make gari, scrub and slice 2 pounds (1 kg) of fresh, young ginger before salting the pieces. After allowing the slices to sit in a clean bowl for an hour, they may be dried with paper towels, and are once again set aside, this time in a sterilized jar or other sturdy container with a lid. A solution made from 3 cups(710 ml) of rice vinegar and 1 cup (236 ml) of sugar should be boiled before being poured over the ginger slices. The covered jar should then be cooled and stored in the refrigerator.

Old ginger should not be used to make this type of tsukemono, as the flavor will not be the same. Old ginger will also fail to yield the proper color. Fully prepared gari is a fresh, light pink to fleshy color, though it can also be pale yellow. Some people confuse it with beni shoga, another form of pickled ginger. Beni shoga, however, is colored red and prepared with a unique mixture known as umezu, which produces a sour flavor.

Another completely different product known as gari exists in Ghana cuisine. It is made from fresh cassava, or yucca plant. This food consists of dried yucca fried and greased. Unlike the Japanese food, this dish is crispy and often added into other foods, such as soups, fish, or stews. Some people, particularly children, create a sweet treat from this food by soaking it in a mixture of sugar and milk.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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    • One type of gari is made from cassava.
      By: Unclesam
      One type of gari is made from cassava.
    • Some people eat gari with sushi.
      By: nalineimages
      Some people eat gari with sushi.