Why Is Pickled Ginger Traditionally Served With Sushi?

Those who have visited a sushi bar will have seen thinly-sliced ginger on their plates. Called gari, pickled ginger, is a Japanese condiment traditionally served with sushi. Fresh root ginger is marinated in a mixture of sugar and vinegar, and is served with sushi to cleanse the palette, stimulate taste buds and aid digestion.

Cleanse the Palette

Many cuisines use seasoning to flavor food. In Japan, the flavors of sushi fish are enhanced by three side dishes: soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. Pickled ginger should be eaten between bites of sushi to cleanse the mouth and prepare the taste buds for new flavors. The fresh, tangy quality of ginger removes the oiliness of the fish from the mouth. Only a small piece of ginger should be eaten between bites of sushi and it should not be placed directly on sushi as it will dominate the flavors of the rice and fish.

Digestive Aid

Known for its antibacterial and digestive qualities, ginger is a perfect accompaniment for raw fish. Ginger has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that are thought to prevent sickness and fight any possible contamination of the raw fish.

Japan is a Large Producer of Ginger

A native spice to Asia, where it has been used in cooking for hundreds of years, it grows well in the fertile, tropical soil found in Japan. As such, it is a spice used in many forms in Japanese cuisine.