Cook in the Moment: Poached Chicken in Ginger Broth

Poached Chicken with Bok Choy in Ginger Broth (c)2012

A Long Journey and the Healing Power of Ginger

The day after we married in October of 2007, my husband and I traveled to St. Lucia for our honeymoon. Below is the story of our journey from my hometown of Arkansas past Florida and the Bahamas, past Puerto Rico, past the Virgin Islands, all the way down to one of the southernmost islands of the Caribbean. It’s a long and winding road, as the saying goes, and we discovered first hand the healing power of strange and wonderful gingerroot.

We arrived in Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, long after the sun had disappeared from the sky, our tiny propeller plane making an abrupt descent and jolted landing. Unbuckling our seat belts, my husband and I let out a sigh of relief. Throughout the day we maintained our excitement, boarding and departing each of the four flights on a journey from Arkansas to the very bottom of the Caribbean. We were all smiles until we encountered a delay in San Juan, Puerto Rico that left us standing in a crowded, sweaty bus parked on the tarmac, while mechanics worked on a problem with the plane. Eventually we boarded this last flight, and settled in for a jarring ride as the aircraft buzzed and hummed, drowning out everything the captain said over the scratchy intercom. I stuffed ear plugs in my ears and tried to pass the time by reading a book. My husband turned on his iPod with noise canceling headphones and went to sleep. No one on the plane even attempted to speak over the buzzing. The window view was nothing but darkness, and I imagined the vast sea below.


10 Ways Tuesday: Fresh Ginger

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.


Ingredient of the Week: Fresh Ginger

Banner Fresh Ginger Root (c)2012

Ginger has been around a long, long time. The Produce Bible traces ginger back to southern India at least 2,000 years ago. According to Whole Living, the name comes from the sanskrit word stringa-vera, meaning hornlike body. It’s a tropical plant, a gnarly root- rhizome, actually, growing horizontally underground, sending up shoots with green leaves and yellow flowers annually. Reading The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion, I learned that most ginger comes from Jamaica, but it’s also grown in India, China, and Africa. The root can be harvested young or mature, and this effects both texture and intensity of flavor. Young ginger is more tender and juicy, with a mild spiciness, while mature ginger can be woody with a thick skin and intense heat. Use whatever you can find at the market, just be mindful of how much spice you’re adding to a dish. Ginger is mildly sweet as well as spicy, with a very unique, almost electric flavor. It’s famous for settling upset stomachs, calming the nerves, and reducing inflammation. Cultures across the globe use ginger in many different ways: brewed with hot sweet tea in India, pickled (gari) to cleanse the palate between courses of sushi in Japan, sliced and simmered in soup to renew energy in China, fermented in ginger beer across Asia, and much more. Fresh ginger is also delicious in stir-fries, vinaigrettes, pickles, jams, marinades, and fruit juices/smoothies. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday, and I’ve got plenty of creative ideas for cooking with fresh gingerroot during late winter and early spring.