How to Eat Ginger With Sushi: A Complete Guide

No sushi dish is complete without soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger. These staples balance out the flavors in a way only sushi lovers can appreciate.

But surprisingly, many of us have been eating sushi all wrong.

Placing that lovely pickled ginger on top of your sushi roll breaks the chef’s heart. Some also say you should pick up the rolls with your hands when it comes to chopsticks, while others completely disagree.

Undoubtedly, things can get a little confusing with this Japanese dish. So let’s start by looking at how to eat ginger with sushi.

how to eat ginger with sushi

What’s With the Ginger?

Sushi rice refers to vinegar rice, also known as shari. Raw seafood or vegetables often accompany the rice.

The dish comes in various textures and flavors but can feel incomplete without the ginger.

Placing ginger on the sushi roll is commonplace, but that’s not how to eat ginger with sushi.

Ginger serves as a palate cleanser and is consumed between servings of sushi. If the chef wanted to use the ginger for balance, he would incorporate it into the roll itself.

How Are You Supposed to Eat Ginger with Sushi?

The ginger served with your sushi is known as gari and comes pickled. That’s what gives it that lovely pink color.

You will be happy to see that it contains antimicrobial and antifungal qualities – good to know when consuming raw fish. It also assists in digestion.

Customarily, sushi is eaten using your hands, even in a fine dining establishment. It is, however, not proper etiquette to eat the ginger in the same way.

Gari should only ever be picked up using your chopsticks. If you were hoping to avoid using them, no can do—time to improve those chopstick skills.

Sushi ginger serves as a palate cleanser. A serving of sushi may contain several different types of fish. For example, you might have tuna, salmon, and mackerel on the same plate.

The gari helps to refresh your palate between each bite of sushi. That way, you can taste the different fish anew without the last mouthful overpowering the new flavor.

The ginger itself can have a robust flavor. However, if eaten together with your sushi roll, it could overwhelm the taste of the fish.

You can now see why it hurts the chef’s feelings when you consume your meal in this way. It nullifies all his hard work of carefully combining the flavors for you.

The next time you find yourself at a Japanese restaurant, remember that ginger is like that drink of water. It is to be consumed between bites and not with the food itself.

So that’s how to eat ginger with sushi.

How to Eat Sushi with Wasabi and Ginger

It would be best if you ate sushi in a particular order.

The fish with the lightest flavor should go first. After that, the strength of taste should progress from the lightest to the strongest.

You can tell how much punch a particular fish packs by looking at its color. Dark-colored fish have more robust flavors. Fatty fish also tend to have a strong taste.

Salmon, for example, has a rich flavor.

If wasabi is your thing, you can now lightly apply it on the roll. Bear in mind that the chef has already added the amount of wasabi that they feel is appropriate for the fish.

When eating nigiri, the rice side should be facing up while the fish side is down.

Without breaking your sushi, dip it into the soy sauce. Be careful not to dunk it completely in the soy sauce, as that’ll end up empowering all of the flavors in the sushi.

If you’re eating nigiri, the rice should not come into contact with the soy sauce, only the fish.

It would be best if you didn’t add wasabi to the soy sauce as it changes both flavors. Some chefs make their soy sauce from scratch, and dipping wasabi in the mix kills the taste of their sauce.

Before moving on to your next fish flavor, pick up your chopsticks and grab a piece of ginger. Chewing it in between mouthfuls should refresh your taste buds.

You should now be able to experience the rest of your meal the way the chef intended.

In Summary

Sushi chefs go to school for years to learn how best to serve your meal. Following proper sushi etiquette makes the most of your dish while respecting the chef’s skill.

Nobody will openly scold you for heaving gari on your sushi roll, but learning how to eat ginger with sushi correctly will make your dish that much more enjoyable.