Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger Root has an aromatic spicy, strong to medium flavour. It has a much weaker aroma until you start to cook with it. The aroma becomes stronger and more recognisable once it is being cooked. Fresh ginger looks like gnarly old fingers with a light brown skin!
Ginger can come in a variety of forms. It can be fresh, powdered, in a paste, pickled and crystallised. Each of these characteristics has its own place when being cooked or used in creating a dish. They each have their own unique delicious flavour. Ginger is used in many countries, these include south Asian, south east Asian, Caribbean and western countries. Each of these countries and regions uses ginger in different ways.
Aids digestion- Ginger root is used for treating dyspepsia which is the clinical name for discomfort, bloating, flatulence, heartburn and nausea after eating. It helps by increasing the body's ability to digest food from the stomach more quickly.
Lowers blood pressure- This root can help lower blood pressure by acting as a vasodilater. It is a good blood thinner and has anti inflammatory properties that can also lower blood pressure and cholestrol.
Colds and flu relief- Drinking ginger tea is a great way of getting relief from colds and flu. It works by warming the body from within, promoting sweating and keeping warm.
Vitamins- A, C, E, K, Folates, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine.
Minerals- Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, Sodium, Potassium.
To use fresh ginger in cooking, it is peeled by breaking or cutting a gnarly knob and using a sharp knife to cut the skin off. Then it is either cut into slender slices, chopped fine, grated or can be crushed. It can also be made into a paste with other spices to make a curry paste.
This spice with its unique aromatic flavour, blends well with meats, poultry and fish. It can be cooked in several ways including stir frying, steaming, boiling and baking.
Powdered ginger is normally used in western countries for baking. It really gives cakes and cookies a uniquely delicious flavour. it is also used in the flavouring of some beers and carbonated drinks.
One of my favourite ways to cook ginger is to steam it with some fish and mushrooms, and serve with fresh stir fried vegetables and some cooked retini pasta mixed with pesto sauce.
Serves 4 people
3 fillets of John Dory skinned and cut into chunks or other white fish
1 packet of Enoki mushrooms with base cut and separated into clusters
1 thumb sized piece of ginger peeled and sliced into fine stripes
3 tablespoons soya sauce
Some fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Ways of cooking can be different depending on what steamer you have. I have a large 2 tier steamer. So partly fill the base pan of your steamer with water. Heat on your cooker and, once boiled, turn down to a gentle simmer.
Using a 2 tier steamer with a large plate in each tier, add the fish evenly to each tier and the same with the ginger and the mushrooms, soya sauce and the black pepper.
Place each plate into each tier in the steamer and leave to cook for 15 minutes or until cooked. Remove from the steamer, and serve with the stir fried vegetables and the pesto pasta.