Ginger is a tropical perennial herb, which is indigenous to southern China. It is specifically the rhizome of the Ginger plant, and is known for its pungent taste and smell.
One can recognize Ginger by its noticeable appearance. Its skin is a golden-beige, which is quite dry and papery in texture, easily flaking off. The flesh of Ginger can vary in colour, ranging from white to yellow. Normally, the fresh Ginger has a firm texture, yet obviously this varies depending on freshness. They usually grow between ½ – 1inches in diameter, but this can vary. The Ginger is found all year round, and can be bought in most supermarkets or fresh market places.
The taste of Ginger is what it is known best for. It is pungent, spicy and hot, and aromatic. Ginger is included in a myriad of foods to bring out different flavours – this ranges from traditional Asian cuisine to the traditional Ginger bread man!
Ginger is known for being a great source of nutrients. It is thought to lower cholesterol and act as an antioxidant to help prevent illness such as thrombosis. Furthermore, throughout history, Ginger has been used as a therapeutic agent and within herbal medicines. Ginger can help relieve various illnesses such as nausea, motion sickness and morning sickness; and is used as an aid to treating loss of appetite. Many people also find Ginger aids them with regards to respiratory problems, such as coughs and bronchitis. In addition, Ginger is often made into a juice that is applied to the skin to treat a variety of burns. If you feel a cold coming on, Ginger is also known to be immune boosting, promoting healthy sweating which can help release the bad toxins from the body when you have a cold or flu. In Chinese traditional medicinal culture, Ginger was cooked with scrambled eggs to help treat coughing. Due to the thought that Ginger possessed amazing healing qualities, in the Middle Ages, people believed that Ginger actually originated from the Garden of Eden!
In order to choose the best Ginger, go for unblemished roots. If they feel soft then avoid, and also avoid those that are incredibly knobbly as these are much harder to peel.
To prepare Ginger for cooking, cut the amount of Ginger that you want to use, and then scrape or peel of the skin. Make sure to only remove the skin, and try not to take too much of the flesh of with it as this is the best part of the Ginger. Then cut according to your needs or the recipe. You can grate, cut, slice, or crush Ginger.
As previously mentioned, Ginger can be incorporated into a wealth of meals. For example, Ginger can be added raw to stir-fries or curries, and even used in tea. Many turn to the powder form of Ginger to add to sweet deserts. However, when cooking traditional Asian cuisines, fresh Ginger is always the best. In Chinese cooking, Ginger has become one of the favourite vegetables, and is as essential as the wok! Ginger is often used when cooking a variety of foods such as fish or organ meats, as to remove objectionable odors and flavours. Often before cooking, chefs use crushed sliced Ginger before actually cooking. They stir it in with the oils in the pan, to ‘sweeten’ the oil and enhance the flavours, and then remove before carrying on with the rest of the cooking.