If you’re anything like me (I can only hope!), you love stuffing your maw with those tangy sour sweet slices of pickled ginger between bites of sushi, sashami, edamame and gulps of beer. Double S is quite the sushi chef. Me, I sous chef for her. I cut up cukes, scallions, mango, carrots, avocado and whatever else we’re going to sushi-ize. I make the sushi rice. I peel, de-vein (truly a thankless and disgusting job) and tempura-ize shrimp, and I do the tempura thing for bananas too. My preferred method is dipping the items first in tempura mix then in panko bread crumbs, then fry. Gives you a good batter. I also cut up any fish we might be using. Then I slice the rolls that Double S makes. I’ve found that a serrated knife is the best tool for this job.
Our sushi is a mix of what we like, of what’s both sustainable and available when it comes to fish, and of a sushi place in Manhattan we called the Brazilian sushi place (mystery solved: Shiki Kitchen–closed! doh!)–this is where we got the idea to add mango and banana to our sushi. It’s awesome. We make sushi often.
All you need to make sushi is a few staples: sushi roller–jut a bamboo or silicone mat, sushi rice, some rice wine vinegar (Am I the only one who has 9 different kinds of vinegar at my fingertips?), sesame oil and some nori.
We run out of pickled ginger and wasabi though. All the time. And we can never remember if we have any at home when we’re actually at the store. Thankfully, Double S got way too much ginger for me when I asked for her to pick some up for me to make Momofuku octo vinaigrette and some birthday Thai food, so we had a lot of fresh ginger around the house. I decided that now is as good a time as any to pickle my own ginger for sushi.
Pickled Ginger for Sushi
Ginger root. About 3/4 pound before peeling.
Rice wine vinegar. 1 and 1/4 cups.
Sugar. 1/4 cup.
Kosher Salt. One heaping tablespoon.
Water. 3 tablespoons.
Peel and wash the ginger root. Slice as thin as you can, using a knife, mandoline or peeler.
You could try out your knife skills and attempt to slice the ginger very thin. That was my ambitious plan. And I took a knife skills class (Cut Like A Chef, People! Just saying.) at the local community college. Community, Thursdays on NBC. But attempting to slice with a knife didn’t work nearly as well as using my trusty vegetable peeler. Just press the peeler hard and develop an angle. The blades of your peeler are mobile, so angle them so that you get a thick enough thin piece. Then you can peel long, thin, wide pieces. When the pieces got too small I cut them with a knife. The ginger at this point will be small and slippery, thus even harder to cut. But I figured I could use the bigger pieces for something other than a sushi palate cleanser, like in a drink or marinade.
I had about a little over 1/2 of a pound of the peeled, prepared ginger root. Slowly add 1 Tbsp of coarse salt, like kosher salt. Use your hands and rub in the salt until there is no more graininess. Let sit for an hour or overnight in the fridge. The above process took only about 3o minutes, and made a ton of product!
After an hour, or the next morning, drain the liquid and squeeze out as much extra liquid as you can. Put the ginger into a clean jar.
Put the vinegar, water and sugar into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Some people add food coloring or a bit of beet or plum to get that sought after pink color. But I read that fresh ginger will readily turn pink after pickling. Buckle up, we’ll see!
Stir the above mixture until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the mixture over the ginger. Cap the jar and let jar marinate or cure for several days in the fridge.
Speaking of peeling and using odd-shaped roots, horseradish! Horseradish is making a comeback at the homestead. Have you had Trader Joe’s horseradish pub cheese? Mmm, pub cheese.
Double S and I have been going crazy over this stuff since we discovered it a few months back. We just picked up two new tubs of it yesterday. Birthday party! And one just for us that will be off-limits at said party. It’s real cheddar–not processed cheese food or anything. This is not to say that you should, say, gorge on an entire tub in one weekend, but seriously, this stuff is amazingly good. Besides pub cheese (mmm), how about homemade cocktail sauce for shrimp? Good ol’ growandresist is giving me a jar of homemade ketchup, so I should be good to go on this! How about an old-fashioned roast beef sandwich with horseradish? My friend in upstate New York (Hey, Big L!) taught me about beef on weck, a Buffalo, NY specialty. I’ve never had this exact dish, but how cool is the name? After this bad boy sits for a few days, I can make a pot roast from our neighborhood meat buying club and try to replicate this dish. Thanks to my pal growandresist (again!) for the heads up on how our neighborhood has a meat buying club from local ranch Thundering Hooves, with a drop-off point very near to the homestead. If you don’t live in Seattle and can’t patronize the folks at Thundering Hooves, check to find out if your area has a meat CSA or local meat buying club. You wont regret it. It’s probably the closest one can get to meat from an animal grown on grass and humanely treated: truly free range. The animals at Thundering Hooves are fed what they are meant to eat, are never in feedlots or in confinement, and are never given preventative antibiotics. And the fact that they live their lives on grass completes the cycle of nutrients back into the soil.
That clip is also for Double S, who had a penchant for late 80s, early 90s Disney. She’s taught me many a Disney tune!
Anyway, if you’ve had any of the above, or just like a spicy condiment for your repertoire, you should make your own horseradish. It’s easy. I got a bit of horseradish root at my local Uwajimaya. This is a pretty effin’ amazing store. Especially their produce section. You could also find it at Asian markets or probably Whole Foods, or better yet, grow it yourself! Horseradish root is easy to grow, and you don’t need to spend twentysomething bucks to buy a root from a nursery or seed catalog. I’m looking at you Territorial! JK, I actually really like Territorial but I also like getting things for free. I just placed an add on Freecycle and picked up some roots in front of some guys garage in my nabe. Thanks, Bob! It spreads fast I’ve heard, so plant it in a contained area. Exercise authority over your root, peeps!
I culled my horseradish making ideas from a few different websites, mainly this little number. I love the early interweb reminiscent torch on the right! Geocities!
Today’s message boards are just a less creepy, anonymous version of yesterday’s chat rooms, right? Anyway, I digress from horseradish. I also did some very important research here and here. And then, there’s this video.
This guy’s excitement about horseradish (I love how he says it!) and the fun facts about the Mississippi River potash and the St. Louis tie, makes me even more excited to eat this here horseradish and think this is gone be the best dang horseradish I ever horseradished. Horseradish!
Horseradish root. Doesn’t matter how much, there’s no exacts in this recipe.
White Vinegar. Just enough to cover the processed horseradish root.
Kosher salt. Just a pinch or so, if needed. To taste.
You will need a food processor (easier) or grater.You will need to open some windows because there will be some strong, punch you in the face fumes. I had the window open but my eyes were still burning after I peeled it and especially when it was being processed.
Wash the horseradish root. Scrub off any dirt. Peel the root under running water.
Get your food processing running. If you can, set up the grater and the regular chopping blade to work simultaneously. Then the top wheel will grate the root, and the bottom blade will do the finer chopping. My processor doesn’t do this, so just grate first, then chop.
As the root gets chopped finer and finer, it will begin sticking to the side of your food processor bowl. With the processor still running, slowly add vinegar till you get a thick but not sticky mixture. When the root is chopped very fine, you are done with this step.
Dump the mixture into a bowl and taste. Yes, taste! Stir in enough vinegar so that the concoction takes on a smooth consistency. Carefully taste and add a pinch or four of salt if needed.
Put into a clean jar and store in the fridge. It will keep for a few weeks, then gradually get less potent.
Oh you like? You have further questions about the uses and origins of horseradish? I thought you’d never ask, friend.
Mom and Pop, I’ve got an idea for my trip home this summer. Horseradish fest!