Saturday, May 10, 2008

Let's talk about Ginger

Ginger root is a staple in Chinese cooking and is widely used in stir-frys, soups, stews, and sauces. It's known for its characteristic flavor, pungent taste, and spicy-sweet aroma. This is what a fresh ginger root looks like.

It is found in the produce section near garlic and herbs. It is often expensive in your local grocery store, like $3.99/pound. In Asian grocery stores, ginger root is only 99 cents/pound, but if you do not frequent an Asian grocery store, don't worry. In general, you don't need much. The above piece of ginger was 69 cents.

When purchasing ginger root, look at the bulbous ends and double check that there is no visible mold. You want a piece with a wide bulbous body, that is the part that you are going to be using. At my grocery store, the ginger root is normally found in huge pieces. It is okay, and common practice, to just break off the quantity you want. When doing so, make sure the inside is bright yellow and not a dingy gray.

Fresh ginger root needs to be peeled before using. Start by cutting off the various "limbs" to get a rectangular shape piece of ginger.
As a general guide, you need about a 1-inch slice of ginger root to get 1 tablespoon of minced ginger. I cut off what I thought would give me one tablespoon minced ginger; the remaining ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for about one week.
Now, cut off the skin, or the outer brown layer, on each side.

Then start at one end, and slice it into thin pieces. Here are mine. Some recipes call for pieces like these, so this could be your end point.

Or you may need to Julienne, or cut your thin pieces into thin strips.

You may be mincing these strips into tiny pieces or mashing minced pieces to form a paste. Your recipe should let you know.

While fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground, the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are not exactly interchangeable. If a recipe calls for fresh ginger, you will most likely be missing some of the most important part for the flavor if you try to use ground ginger instead.

This is one of those ingredients where substitutions are not going to give you the same end result.

1 comment:

Ann said...

That is so is amazing how many people don't use fresh things, and american cooking doesn't really require alot of fresh ginger. So for some of us a step by step is a great thing!!! :)

Love the pictures..I can allready taste the ginger cut up with garlic and tossed with fresh, barely steamed green beans, soy sauce and sesame oil. OK I am officially hungry now!!!!