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Fresh Ginger (c)2012

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with fresh ginger during late winter/early spring:

1.  Pickled Ginger

Paper-thin slices of pickled ginger are to be eaten as a palate cleanser between bites of sushi. I learned about the 3 types of pickled ginger common in Japanese cuisine from The Encyclopedia of Asian Food. “Salmon pink,” thinly sliced benishoga is to be eaten with sashimi, pale yellow gari with sushi, and deep pink hajikami shoga (ginger shoots) are used to garnish grilled foods. A method for making pickled ginger found in The Produce Bible calls for a 4 1/2-inch piece of ginger to be peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces, tossed in 2 teaspoons of salt and left in the fridge for a week. When the time has passed, cut the softened ginger into thin slices across the grain. Dissolve a couple tablespoons sugar in 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 cup rice vinegar, boiling in a small pan. Place the ginger in a hot, sterile jar and pour over the marinade. Seal the jar and allow it to marinate a week in the fridge before using.

2.  David Chang’s Ginger Scallion Noodles

In the Momofuku cookbook David Chang writes, “Ginger scallion sauce is one of the greatest sauces or condiments ever. Ever. It’s a mother sauce at Momofuku, something we use over and over again.” The sauce is a mixture of scallions, minced ginger, usokuchi (light soy sauce), sherry vinegar, and grapeseed oil that David Chang serves over ramen, lo mein, rice noodles, grilled meats, seafood, and rice bowls with fried egg. You can find an excerpt from his book and the recipe for Ginger Scallion Noodles over at Saveur.

3.  Ginger Beer

According to The Encyclopedia of Asian Food, ginger beer is a popular party drink throughout tropical Asia. It’s a fizzy home brew made by fermenting fresh ginger, lemongrass, sugar, spices (nutmeg, mace, cinnamon), water, egg whites, and lemon or lime juice with yeast for a couple of days. Ginger beer should be bottled in left at room temperature for 24 hours, after which time it will be bubbly and ready to drink. Don’t leave it more than 48 hours or the bottles will explode. Ginger beer is also very popular in England (where it is said to have originated), and Nigel Slater shares a refreshing recipe for Classic Ginger Beer over at The Guardian. He adds lemon verbena for for a fresh, herbal flavor.

4.  Detoxifying Chicken Soup with Ginger

Reading the book, A Spoonful of Ginger, I learned that in China, new mothers are served chicken soup with ginger for a month postpartum, to restore their energy. The book contains a recipe for Clear-Steamed Chicken Soup with Ginger, which is a technique of double boiling used to make a very clear, full-flavored broth. It can be done on the stove-top or in the oven. The healing broth is flavored with rice wine, scallions, fresh ginger, and a whole chicken. This recipe for Cleansing Ginger-Chicken Soup by Christopher Hirsheimr and Melissa Hamilton  is flavored with chicken, onion, celery, garlic, ginger, black peppercorns and cilantro. Tomorrow I’ll be cooking this simple recipe for Poached Chicken with Bok Choy in Ginger Broth.

5.  Jean Georges Ginger Fried Rice

Jean Georges describes his recipe for Ginger Fried Rice in Asian Flavors of Jean Georges as “deeply satisfying, one of my new favorite dishes…quick and easy, but elegant enough for a dinner party.” This recipe is so simple, you really must give it a go. Leftover jasmine rice is fried in oil with leeks, then topped with a fried egg and crispy, browned pieces of minced ginger and scallions. Mark Bittman calls it “the best fried rice I’ve ever had” and shows how to make it here.

6.  Ginger in Fruit Juices and Smoothies

The zippy, electric flavor of fresh ginger gives a punch to healthy juices like this Grapefruit, Carrot, and Ginger Juice from Whole Living. Simply peel and chop fresh ginger root, passing it through a juicer with the rest of the produce. I also like the flavor of fresh ginger with fruits like mango, lime, or strawberry. Though I can’t seem to incorporate juices into my morning routine (tea for me), I do love them in the afternoon as a pick-me-up.

7.  Stir Fried Ginger Beef

I’m all about keeping things simple at the moment, and this recipe for Flash-Cooked Ginger Beef from A Spoonful of Ginger is simple but full of zesty flavor. Flank steak is cut into small pieces and marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, minced garlic, and corn starch, then seared in a wok. At the last moment, a sauce is made from shredded fresh ginger, scallions, and bean sprouts with toasted sesame oil, soy, and rice wine. The thick mixture of sauce and meat is delicious served over rice or wrapped in a pancake. An interesting tidbit- the author writes that ginger is paired with beef in China to rid the body of toxins associated with eating meat.

8.  Baking Cupcakes with Fresh Ginger

When you think of baking with ginger, ground spices probably come to mind. However, the flavor of fresh and ground ginger is very different, and using freshly grated ginger root in baked goods imparts a sweet, zesty flavor. As winter becomes spring I start to crave carrot cake, with creamy white frosting and sweet marzipan carrot garnish. Flipping through Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, I found this recipe for Carrot Ginger Cupcakes, which Martha touts as light and moist. The cream cheese frosting is flavored with orange zest and grated ginger, bright and cheerful flavors to welcome spring.

9.  Ginger Vinaigrette for Salads

I’m addicted to the spicy kick of fresh ginger in vinaigrette for my salads. A few weeks ago I made this Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette with Winter Grapefruit Salad. Orange juice, honey, and peppery ginger dressed slices of grapefruit, hearts of palm, Belgian endive and red lettuce. I also like the look of this Crab and Avocado Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette– it’s got lemon juice and Asian flavors of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and scallions. Ginger combines well with pungent garlic, olive oil, and vinegar as a dressing for a crisp winter salad of radicchio and Belgian endive. Get in the kitchen and come up with your own ginger vinaigrette, try combining the spicy heat of fresh ginger with all kinds of citrus, berries, or different vinegars (maybe balsamic could be good?).

10.  Ginger Tea

The anti-inflammatory properties of fresh ginger infused into tea are used as a remedy for colds and flu and upset stomach. Asian cultures embrace the restorative nature of ginger and in India hot ginger tea is a calming, comforting ritual. The Encyclopedia of Asian Food includes instructions for brewing Ginger Tea: place about 8 slices of fresh ginger in a small saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. When the water has boiled for two minutes, pour it over your tea bags in the tea pot and steep for 5 minutes. Serve the tea strained and sweetened with sugar.

What is your favorite way to cook with fresh ginger root? Share it in the comments section. Click Here.