Asian vendors displaying fresh ginger root in my farmers’ market these days led me to remember ginger growing in our Hawaiian garden when I was an adolescent. In tropical climes, it’s a becoming landscape plant, and I was fascinated both by its beautiful flowers and its potential inside for the kitchen and medicine cabinet. (Ginger has long been touted as a healing herb and I can say, anecdotally, that it works to alleviate nausea in cases of sea or car sickness and mixed with parsley in a strong brew, assuages bladder infections.)
Ginger’s culinary uses are many. Fresh, it can be grated, chopped, or sliced and pickled or candied. Dried, it is powdered and used pan-globally as a spice alone or in combo with other spices to flavor braises, stir fries, and all sorts of sweet concoctions from cookies and cakes to ginger ale. Here are two of my favorite ginger preparations:
Makes about 3/4 cup
6 ounces prepared ginger (see caption at the first photo)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Very thinly slice or shave the prepared ginger and place it in a bowl. Toss with the salt, kneading with your hands to help release some of the liquid from the slices. Place in the refrigerator to macerate overnight.
2. Next day, rinse the ginger, squeeze out excess liquid, and place in a clean bowl.
3. Combine the vinegar, water, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the ginger. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate to cure and mellow. Enjoy after 2 or 3 days.
Sugared ginger slices drying to become candy.Makes about 4 ounces
6 ounces prepared ginger (see caption at the second photo above)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
1. Slice the prepared ginger into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Combine the ginger rounds, sugar, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to maintain a brisk simmer and cook until the ginger is tender and the liquid is reduced and foamy, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
2. With tongs, lift the ginger pieces out of the syrup and place them without touching each other on a plate or bamboo mat. Set aside at room temperature for several hours, up to overnight, for the sugar to harden and crystallize, then enjoy.