What is that elusive flavor in so many Asian recipes? Frequently, it is fresh ginger. Fresh ginger's sweet, hot, tangy, gentle, refreshing, complex flavor is worlds away from the dried, powdered spice so common in western cooking. Ginger is a rhizome, a woody, underground stem that grows underground in tropical climates. Fresh ginger will lend complexity to a simple teriyaki sauce, and it's a must-have for many Thai, Indian, Chinese and other Asian dishes. You might also try it as an addition to the powdered stuff next time you make gingerbread or gingersnaps. Fresh ginger also makes a soothing tea for an unhappy tummy.It is usually essential that fresh ginger be an invisible ingredient because it is unpleasant to chew. The chef needs to make sure that it is finely diced, minced or grated. While those terms have definite differences in much western cooking, with ginger they are pretty much synonymous. By the way, remember to peel your ginger before you mince it, unless you're using a ceramic grater.
Use a mortar and pestle to mince fresh ginger in the old fashioned way. This is ideal if you prefer using more traditional tools. You'll love the smell of the pounded ginger as you work.
Use an Asian fresh ginger grater for an easier traditional method. There are a variety of ceramic and copper/tin graters made throughout Asia, some quite beautiful.
Use a blender or food processor for the easiest western way of mincing fresh ginger. This works well if you are making a smooth sauce or marinade. Just process the ginger with the liquid ingredients and proceed with your recipe according to directions.
Use a microplane grater or chop your ginger with a knife or cleaver if you want a slightly coarser texture for your minced ginger. Western cooks are lucky enough to have access to the latest in traditional Asian ginger mincers, as well as the efficient microplane graters that cooks have borrowed from the hardware store.
Tips & Warnings
- You don't need to peel your ginger unless you think the skin will be detectable in the finished dish.
- Young ginger has a more pronounced, fresher flavor. If you can scrape the skin off the ginger with your thumbnail, it is young and fresh.
- If you are not going to mince, chop or grate your ginger, make sure you cut pieces that are large enough to be seen in the finished dish.
- Photo Credit www.gingerking.com, www.bento.com, kitchendetails.co.uk, www.amazon.com
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