When posed the age-old question, “Ginger or MaryAnn?”, we always choose ginger. It’s a staple in many Asian and Indian foods and is spicy, citrusy and herbal all at once. Ginger, or ginger root, is a rhizome, is native to China, has tan skin and white to yellow flesh and can add heat, sweetness and tang to a dish. You can usually find in many forms at your local grocery: fresh, dried and ground into a powder, preserved, crystallized and pickled. Most baked goods call for the powdered form but be sure to use the right one because their flavors and textures vary greatly. When purchasing fresh ginger, look for a firm “hand” (so called because of the root’s main branches and protruding side fingers) with smooth, unwrinkled skin.
When it comes to fabricating ginger, there are a few ways to go about it. Keep in mind that the more surface area exposed, the more flavor extraction you’ll get. In most cases you’ll peel the ginger first. From there, depending on the application, you can just slice the ginger, slice it then chop it finely, slice it then pound it with a mallet or, my favorite, use a Microplane.
We don’t have many gadgets in our kitchen and believe that a chef’s or French knife can take the place of many space wasting devices that you’ll ultimately spend more time cleaning than you saved by using it in the first place. Not so with the Microplane which is essentially a wood rasp for culinary use. It’s a grater with a series of razor sharp teeth, spaced closely together that work wonderfully to grate and shred hard or fibrous products like hard cheese, chocolate, citrus zest, ginger and whole spices like nutmeg.
Fresh ginger is high in potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium has literally hundreds of folk medicine uses. Many people make ginger tea by boiling fresh pieces of ginger and adding lemon or orange juice and honey and is used for soothing a sore throat. Ginger is said to cure a slew of ailments including nausea and gas and has analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Too much sugar can negate the health benefits of many ginger products like gingerbread, treacle tart, mincemeat, and gingersnaps so eat them in moderation.
Stir-Fried Japanese Eggplant
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons grated ginger root
2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and very finely chopped
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
6 baby Japanese eggplant
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
Slice eggplant lengthwise and then slice each half into ½ inch pieces. Set aside.
Heat sesame oil in large sauté pan until shimmering.
Add ginger root and garlic and cook until both are soft and fragrant. Do not brown.
Add scallions and eggplant. Cook, tossing and stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar. Continue to cook until eggplant are slightly soft.
Add sesame seed and soy sauce. Reduce slightly.
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger root
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and very finely chopped
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions
- 6 baby Japanese eggplant
- 2 teaspoons tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- Slice eggplant lengthwise and then slice each half into ½ inch pieces. Set aside.
- Heat oils in large sauté pan until shimmering.
- Add ginger root and garlic and cook until both are soft and fragrant. Do not brown.
- Add scallions and eggplant. Cook, tossing and stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle with sugar. Continue to cook until eggplant are slightly soft.
- Add sesame seed and soy sauce. Reduce slightly.