Ginger is an important part of many culinary traditions for good reason: it’s got a distinctively spicy but pleasant flavour that complements a lot of different kinds of foods. Ginger also has significant health benefits. It contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols and is also known to soothe the digestive system.
If you want to incorporate more ginger into your diet, there are plenty of ways to cook with it. Here are some ideas on how to approach fresh ginger:
Choose the freshest ginger
When shopping, reach for plump and healthy pieces of ginger root, rather than wrinkly or shriveled pieces. Really fresh ginger tends to have the most mild and more pleasing flavour.
Peel it properly
To cook with ginger root, you’ll first need to peel away the outer skin. It actually comes off fairly easily — just scrape it off with the edge of metal spoon.
To slice or to grate?
Different recipes call for different ginger preparations. To slice it, make sure you slice it thinly and cross-wise rather than lengthwise so that you’re cutting across the fibrous grain. To mince ginger, cut those slices lengthwise, then chop into small cubes. You can also grate ginger: use the small holes on a cheese grater or a lemon zester.
Throw it into stir-fries
If you’re improvising a stir-fry, try throwing a little bit of minced or grated ginger into the sauce. Ginger works with many Asian-inspired flavours and stir-fry vegetables like carrots, snow peas and bok choy. It’s also a great addition to any curry stir-fry.
Use it in soups
If you’re cooking onions at the beginning of a soup, throw in some minced or sliced ginger. Ginger works particularly well with winter vegetable soups like carrot or sweet potato.
Marinate with ginger
Ginger adds some kick to easy soy sauce based marinades. The flavour of the ginger easily infuses into flank steak, pork, salmon and other proteins.
Ginger makes for a wonderful tea — simply throw a chunk in with some boiling water and let it steep. A little bit of fresh ginger can also go a long way in fresh juice or smoothies. For something a little less healthy, you can also experiment with making ginger syrups to use when mixing cocktails or with soda water to make homemade ginger ale.
Bake with it
Most traditional ginger-flavoured baking recipes use ground or crystalized ginger rather than fresh. That said, with ginger becoming more popular, you’re likely to find fresh ginger in more and more dessert recipes. Try fresh ginger in treats like pumpkin pie, cakes or cookies for a more intense ginger flavour.