Ginger is the culinary equivalent of enthusiasm. Whether you’re using it in a savory or a sweet dish, its spicy aroma that seems to go straight from the nose to the brain, is a wake-up call: Hey! Things are about to get interesting! Put the ginger flower in a vase; in the kitchen we use the rhizome of the plant which is from a family—kind of amusingly—called Zingiberaceae. (Emphasis on zing!) Ginger has been used for more than 3,000 years as a spice and a medicine.
Of course it always gets the spotlight come the holidays—gingerbread architecture is an increasingly refined and complex art—just take a look at the building featured on the cover of Salt Lake magazine in 2018. Here, along with Thai, Indian and Vietnamese cuisines, ginger is getting more and more popular as a main-course spice.
Available in many forms, ginger is a go-to for fabulous flavor. Here are just some of the ways it’s used:
Ginger is not a root, it is actually a rhizome. Buy a fresh piece of it in the produce department and store it in the freezer. When you crave the taste of fresh ginger, grate off as much as you need with a hard-cheese grater.
Diced ginger root is cooked in sugar syrup until the sugar crystallizes. Use it in baking or dip it in melted dark chocolate for an after-dinner palate refresher.
The rhizome is dried and ground. Find this in the spice department and use it in all kinds of baked goods. (Tip: A tiny pinch added to yeast doughs at the beginning will speed up their rise.)
This is traditionally used as a palate refresher during a sushi dinner, but it’s also wonderful slivered into green salads or chicken salad.
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