History, meaning and kinds of gari

gari young ginger (shin shoga) gari and soy sauce

Gari is well known as appendage to sushi!?

Gari is slices of seasonal young ginger pickled in sweetened vinegar. This juicy ginger is called Shin-shoga, and gone on market in June or July. On the other hand, the best season of standard ginger is October or November. This ginger become hot during summer and autumn. Shin-shoga is not hot because it is harvested before summer.

Gari is well known as trimmings or appendage to sushi. It was eaten with sushi from Edo period (1603-1867) according to the Morisada Mankou which was encyclopedia written by Morisada Kitagawa in 1837. There are some theories about why Japanese call picked ginger Gari, the leading theory is that Gari is derived from the sounds of eating or cutting a ginger.

young ginger (shin-shoga)

Japanese called ginger "Shoga", but called picked ginger "Gari". Gari is one of the terms of sushi restaurants like Murasaki (soy sauce), Agari (hot green tea), Shari (sushi rice ball), Oaiso (the check please) and more. Murasaki means purple in Japanese, but it means soy sauce in sushi restaurants.

Gari is eaten with sushi for several reasons. One of them is that people eat a sushi with wetting their fingers by Gari. Sushi was Japanese fast food in the past, people ate sushi by hand. When people ate it by dry hand, rice stuck their hand. People ate Gari and wet their hand by Gari. Gari became indispensable to sushi.

The other reason is to apply soy sauce on battleship sushi also called Gunkan sushi. It is easy to dip Nigiri sushi and sushi roll in soy sauce, but it is difficult to dip battleship in soy sauce without dropping toppings. That became easy by using Gari like brush.

gari applying soy sauce

There is other reason about eating Gari to clean one's plate. People enjoy another sushi after doing that. Some people said that Gari has intestinal function because it made by ginger and vinegar.

There is other slice of pickled ginger dish called Beni-shoga in Japan. Beni-shoga is different from Gari in vinegar. It is pickled in plum vinegar with Japanese herb called Shiso. It is right red color because of using it. In addition, it made by not young ginger but old ginger which is little dry.


On the other hand, Gari is made by young ginger and pickled in ordinary vinegar. Slices of young ginger (500g) pickled in vinegar (400cc), sugar (130g) and spoonful salt after boiling. Two or three days later, Gari is completed.

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