I’m not much of a sushi fan, but those who are know about pickled ginger. I’ve never thought much about it, or ate it, until a recent revelation.
I am a big fan, however, of picking up a meal at a street vendor or roadside food stall. Often, what you buy – fried chicken, Isaan sausage, chicken/duck and rice, etc. – comes with some slices of cucumber, a bit of raw cabbage, and either a few green chilis or a few slices of pickled ginger. Oh, and always a sauce in a tiny plastic bag.
One day, when devouring some Isaan sausage, I actually noticed the ginger. I usually eat the cuke slices but this time I paired each slice with a slice of pickled ginger.
What a surprise!
But where to find this pickled ginger. Surely, it must be sold in the main fresh market. I’ve not seen it there, but then, I’ve never actually looked for it.
So two weeks ago, on my weekly visit to the market to stock up on vegetables, I looked around for the ginger. There were plenty of stalls selling ginger root but nowhere could I find pickled ginger.
This week I tried again. So after buying chicken, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, pototoes, basil, cucumbers, I walked around with an eye out for the prize. I even scrutinized the dazzling dried foods area, yellows and golds from some exotic dried something or other and used for what I have no idea.
I gave up, to fight another day. But before departing, I had to stop at the duck vendor at the entrance for some roasted duck breast and rice to take away for lunch.
Did I mention he was one of the few vendors who gives out pickled ginger with his meals?
Finding the container holding his pickled ginger, I asked, “where?”
He pointed to a vendor 30 feet away.
I paid my 50 baht ($1.40) for the duck and rice (which I would augment with a 50-baht piece of fried chicken on the walk home) and went looking for the ginger. Went to the wrong place.
Suddenly, the young girl who had been helping me at the duck stall appeared and pointed me to a small table with a few items on top. One of those items was pickled ginger encased in small plastic cups that are usually used for individual water servings (you know, you get a miniature straw with them to puncture the top!). 10 baht!
I should add that I’ve bought meals from that duck vendor several times, so he knows me, but his helpfulness and that of the young girl with him (probably his daughter or granddaughter) is typical in Thailand.