Why Is Sushi Ginger Pink?

Feb 21, 2013 2:31 pm

Gari, the sushi accoutrement that's pickled pink

why is pickled ginger pink?
Photo: !!!! scogle on Flickr
Gari, pickled sushi ginger, seen pretty in pink here.

Thanks to our 12 Sushi Commandments, you know how and why to eat gari, the pickled ginger that comes with your sushi. Ever wonder why some of it sports a pink tint and some a more natural-looking beige? Prepare to be amazed.

Because it looks nice! Yes, presentation is one of the pillars of sushi culture. That's why you can spend $5 on a supermarket California roll and still be assured that a little plastic grass decoration thing will be separating the wasabi from, yes, the pickled ginger. It's simply the custom. In restaurants, sushi chefs stock either natural pickled ginger or ginger dyed pink artificially or with beet juice, oftentimes depending on the color of servingware used. But plenty of places don't even give it that much thought — whatever color your ginger is, it's more or less the same thing.

Pink ginger does exist in nature — younger ginger roots have a pink tint that is enhanced by pickling. But chances are that the pink ginger in the jar of brine you're holding just had a little work done. 

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