Love Your Ginger!Jun 16, 2023
Continuing the theme of adding herbs and spices to your recipes, this week I’m talking about one of my favourites, Ginger!
And if you missed the post on Turmeric, check it out here.
Ginger is very versatile, and can be used in recipes for both food and beverages. Both for simply enjoying their deliciousness, but also for therapeutic benefits. Who doesn’t remember the relief of sipping ginger ale to calm an upset stomach as a child?
Stay tuned for an up close look at the facts behind ginger … and of course some delicious recipes!
Ginger is a flowering plant native to Asia. The ginger spice comes from the roots of the plant. It's used as a food flavouring and has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years. Ginger contains chemicals that might reduce nausea and swelling. These chemicals seem to work in the stomach and intestines, but they might also help the brain and nervous system to control nausea. It's also used for menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, diabetes, migraine headaches, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses (not yet, anyway). Ginger may have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Eight facts about Ginger:
- Zingiber officinale
REGION OF CULTIVATION
- Ginger is native to tropical Asia. Today it is mainly cultivated on India’s Malabar Coast (which produces 50% of the world’s fresh crop), and through tropical and subtropical parts of Asia. It is also found in parts of Africa, Jamaica, Mexico, North America and Peru.
METHOD OF CULTIVATION
- Rhizomes are harvested 2-5 for fresh usage and 8-10 months for dried usage.
MAJOR FLAVOUR COMPOUND
- Gingerol, shogaol, and zingiberene.
- Rhizomes (fleshy underground stems).
- Fresh: Young rhizomes are cleaned and dried for 1-2 days.
- Dried: Mature rhizomes are peeled, dried, and ground.
- Perfumery, and cosmetics; in traditional medicine for indigestion and nausea.
- Do not use ground dried ginger to substitute the fresh spice, as it has a different flavour profile.
- Avoid older rhizomes with signs of shrivelling, which can mean that the flesh is fibrous.
In the kitchen
Ginger has a hot-spice, citrusy, woody taste. The dried spice has a stronger, more aromatic flavour than fresh ginger, and is commonly used in baking and in spice blends. Fresh ginger is most commonly used in Asian cuisine
Did you know? Peeling the ginger bursts open the outer layer of cells, allowing fragrant oils to evaporate. Cooking converts the ginger’s mouth-watering flavour compounds into a much milder zingerone.
Cooking with Ginger
- Try adding ground ginger to carrot cake, lemon cake and coconut or dark chocolate cookies.
- Add slices of fresh ginger to slow-cooked pork dishes to offset the fattiness.
- Use julienned ginger with shredded leek or spring onions when steaming fish.
- Mix grated fresh ginger into Asian-style coleslaws
- Fry with the onion base of a squash soup.
Mango, Pears and Rhubarb
- Pair with mango in puddings, and poach with fresh slices with pears and rhubarb.
A couple of spice blends
ONE - Advieh - A heady blend of Persian spices to sprinkle over savoury rice, rub over meats, or add to stews. It is also good on Persian rice pudding
- 2 tbsp. dried rose petals
- 2 tbsp. cardamom seeds
- 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp. ground ginger
- 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
Grind the whole spices and combine with the ground ginger and cinnamon.
TWO - Leche De Tigre - Translating as ‘tiger milk’, this is the marinating liquid for ceviche, the raw fish dish from Peru and now enjoyed all along the Pacific Coast.
- ½-1 aji limo, habanero, or other hot chili, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 1 in (2.5cm) piece of ginger, coarsely grated
- 1 tbsp. fresh coriander stalks, finely chopped
- ½ small red onion, finely chopped
- Juice of 5 limes
- Salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour before using to marinate fresh white fish. Leche de tigre is traditionally drunk after the fish has been eaten.
Recipes using ginger ~
- Thinly slice some fresh ginger. You don’t need to peel it first, but do rinse it and scrub off any visible dirt. Plan on about using about a one-inch piece of ginger per cup of tea.
- In a saucepan, combine the ginger with fresh water (use one cup of water per serving).
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Simmer for five minutes (or up to 10 minutes, if you want extra-strong tea).
- Pour the tea through a fine sieve to catch all of the ginger.
- If desired, serve the tea with a thin round of lemon or orange for some complementary acidity. You might also appreciate a light drizzle of honey or maple syrup, which will temper the fiery ginger flavour.
Sugar-Free Ginger Ale
Ginger Ale Syrup:
- 4 cups Water
- 1 cup Fresh Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup Stevia Sweetener
- 1 Lemon, juice and grate the peel
- Soda Water or Sparkling Water to top up
- Place the water, ginger, sweetener and grated lemon peel in a large saucepan – bring to the boil and then lower heat to medium – simmer 20 minutes
- Remove from heat, let cool completely and transfer to a sealed container – refrigerate at least two days (or more – the longer the better)
- Add the lemon juice and stir well – pour the syrup through a strainer and discard the pieces
- Pour 2 – 4 tablespoons of the ginger syrup into a tall glass and top up with soda water or sparkling water and ice – serve well chilled
- Keep syrup in a sealed container in the refrigerator
Honey Ginger Salmon
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 1 Tbsp Ginger (fresh, minced)
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 lb Salmon Fillet
- Preheat oven to 400ºF (205ºC) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, ginger, and salt. Brush the mixture onto the salmon.
- Add the salmon to the baking sheet and bake for ten minutes, or until the salmon flakes apart with a fork.
- Serve with your choice of veggies and sides. Enjoy!
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