Hailing from Brazil, China, Thailand and Central America, yellow ginger root rules the produce section at U.S. grocery stores. If you are lucky, you have access to blue Hawaiian ginger, either because you live on one of the islands or you are near a mainland shop that imports this high-quality type, with its large rhizomes and a light blue ring inside the skin.
Asian grocers and Korean supermarkets may also present shoppers with bins heaped with white ginger root and baby ginger root, the mildest type. The main culinary options for ginger root are:
- yellow, the most widely sold in U.S. groceries,
- white, available mainly in Nigeria but also in specialty U.S. markets,
- blue Hawaiian, which maintains a yellow core,
- and baby, also called green, pink, young, new, stem or spring ginger.
Flavor and Preparation
The flavor of yellow and white ginger root provides strong, sweet and pungent notes when sliced, chopped or minced in your Chinese, Indian, Thai or West African cooking. You can also grate freshly bought rhizomes, while older, stringy fingers of ginger present a fibrous interior and cannot be grated. These need to be cut with a sharp knife. Peel the skins with a peeler or the edge of a spoon, or just chop up the fingers and add the pieces to your dish.
Cook with yellow or white ginger root when you want the classic powerful ginger root flavor, blue Hawaiian for an even zestier taste and baby ginger for a milder character perfect for salads.
Using Baby Ginger
Baby ginger may sound like a tinier version than the large "hands" of yellow ginger root, but it actually grows in huge clusters that can similarly be snapped into smaller "fingers" that last a few weeks in the kitchen. Baby ginger's flavor is milder than yellow, and its thinner skin can be left on when you chop it.