We often think of ginger as the root of a plant, but it is in fact, an underground stem (called a rhizome) that has a myriad of culinary uses either in its fresh form, as a dried powder, or pickled.
Fresh ginger complements both sweet and savoury dishes with its tangy freshness, light spiciness, warmth, and mellow sweetness. It is an indispensable ingredient in Asian and Indian cuisine. When looking for flavour and texture in a recipe, for example in a stir fry, ginger can be sliced into planks or matchsticks or chopped. Planks or slices work well for infusions e.g. ginger tea or in a stock, and minced bits of ginger, when incorporated into a dish such as a couscous pilaf, will deliver intermittent bursts of warmth and spicy flavour. For salad dressings and dipping sauces, it is best to first grate it and then to a blend it with other ingredients.
For thousands of years, ginger has been used by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs for the treatment of stomach ache, diarrhoea, and nausea. There is also documented evidence to support its use for pregnancy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting. It may also be effective in the treatment of arthritis (osteo and rheumatoid) and motion-sickness although the evidence has not been consistent. Some other potential health benefits of using ginger include alleviation of pain from a sore throat, aid in digestion, and reducing cold and flu symptoms.
Quick ideas for using ginger:
- Ginger Tea (boil fresh ginger and lemon for 20min. Ring the changes, by adding turmeric, cloves, cardamom, or serve with fresh mint and a dash of honey)
- Add to cold water with lemon and pomegranate
- Add chopped ginger to freshly steamed vegetables such as parsnips, turnips and carrots or to green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, bok choy).
Ginger rosemary rub
Makes 3 cups. Serving size ¼ cup. This seasoning works well for most meat – beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish.
1 cup paprika
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Pan-Seared Salmon with Cherry Tomato–Ginger Sauce
In this recipe, fresh ginger flavors the sauce, and ground ginger and other warm spices are rubbed on the fish to make a flavorful, crisp crust. Be sure to buy whole coriander seeds and grind them in a food processor or spice grinder; pre-ground coriander will be too fine.
1/4 cup coriander seeds, ground medium-fine
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbs. canola oil
4 center-cut salmon/fresh tuna fillets (about 180g each), skin removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
500g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup dry white wine or vegetable stock
1/4 cup homemade or low-salt chicken stock
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. chopped fresh coriander
- In a small bowl, combine the coriander, ground ginger, and cayenne and mix with oil to make a paste. Pat the paste on both sides of the salmon fillets and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a heavy-based pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil and swirl to coat.
- When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the fillets and cook until the bottom is well browned and the bottom half of the fish becomes opaque (3 to 4 min). Turn the fish and cook until browned on the second side and just cooked through, (another 3 to 4 min).
- Transfer to a warm platter.
- Pour off all but a film of fat from the pan. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 15 sec). Add tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until slightly softened (about 2 min). Remove from the heat, toss in the ginger, and pour the tomatoes over the fish.
- Put the pan over high heat. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half. Add the stock; boil until reduced by half again.
- Off the heat, swirl in the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the salmon and tomatoes, sprinkle with the coriander, and serve immediately.