MxMo Ginger Is In Progress

mxmologoOnce again, it’s time for Mixology Monday. This month, Matt “Rumdood” Robold is hosting, and although the man doesn’t know dilly-oh about an Old Fashioned, he’s a helluva guy with a helluva theme: ginger. Great theme, but a bit of a problem for me.

I love ginger, but I’m a little too comfortable with it. I use Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur a lot, and I use ginger beer/ale quite often, too. I’ve even made my own ginger beer. I wanted to do something new this time, but I was stymied. Knowing my dilemma, Jen got to brainstorming — thinking about not just ginger but also what’s in season right now. “Strawberries! Why not ginger and strawberries!”

I liked it, so I Googled. I found a Persian syrup called sekanjabin (also, sekanjubin or sekanjamin). Apparently, it was originally just a sugared vinegar, but then took on mint. In its basic form, it’s a sweet-and-sour syrup with mint. Interesting that such a simple search introduced me to something new. (Given that no search on this term turns up a cocktail blog or recipe anywhere, I seem to have stumbled on to something, in my own shambling fashion.)

It’s a versatile thing: you can serve the syrup as a salad dressing. Add bread to your salad for a light meal. Or make what’s apparently a typical Persian soft drink by taking the syrup, mixing in still or sparkling water, and stirring.

Hm. Sugar, water, vinegar. Cocktail geeks have been working with shrubs and gastriques for some time, which entail fruit, sugar, water, and vinegar. Let me introduce a new member of the family, the sekanjabin. If you will, a shrub with mint.

Sort of. The sekanjabin doesn’t require fruit.  Writing in The Complete Middle East Cookbook, Tess Mallos lays out a simple recipe for sekanjabin: sugar, water, white vinegar, lemon juice, and mint.

Ginger! Where’s the ginger?!

Sekanjabin ingredients

I found an interesting variant on the basic sekanjabin, with strawberry, ginger, and mint. Inspired by that, but limited by the ingredients on hand, I made my own variation. But unfortunately, it won’t be ready until tomorrow, hence the “…Is In Progress” in the title.

I started with the All Recipes base recipe, but brought in some of Tess Mallos’s ideas and also went my own way in some spots. Again, this is versatile. I want to serve it diluted with soda from the syphon as a non-alcohol drink. I want to serve it with champagne. I want to mix it into cocktails as I would a shrub. I want to pour it on your… wait, I’m getting carried away.

Note, I’m not convinced the overnight maceration is necessary, because it tastes damn fine already. Also, although the final prep calls for straining off the fruit, Jen thinks that if you leave it in, and mix the syrup with wine, you’d have a damn good sangria. See? Versatile!

Strawberry-Ginger Sekanjabin

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 ounces chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 3 ounces sliced ginger
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar

In a pan, boil sugars and water over high heat until sugars are dissolved. Stir in strawberries, mint, ginger, and lemon zest and juice. Return to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in vinegars, and let cool. Store overnight at room temperature.

Strain solids from syrup using a fine strainer. Bottle it and store in the refrigerator.

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