Ginger: The Best Food and Drinks to Add It to
Ginger: it’s that golden stuff that comes with your sushi which you tried once and were shocked by the sharp burning sensation as it slid down your tongue and throat. Odds are you either love it or hate it. But maybe you just haven’t consumed it in the right way for you to appreciate its spicy sweetness.
So what does ginger look like in nature? Take a guess. Is it spice, a vegetable? Actually, ginger is a rhizome, which is the stem of an underground plant that grows horizontally and sends out roots and shoots, kind of like asparagus. Originally, it is native to south-eastern Asia, India and China, where it has been valued for its medicinal and culinary properties for thousands of years. When the Romans started importing ginger to Europe during the years of Holy Roman Empire, the western world instantly fell in love with the all-around marvel that it is and continues to adore it to this day.
Well, no wonder it’s so popular: ginger isn’t only a delicious seasoning for everyday dishes, it also holds amazing curative powers for both internal and external use. Rubbed on the skin, it has the ability to soothe small burns and stimulate blood circulation. Since it encourages perspiration, it can also be effective in soothing fevers provoked by influenza or colds. One of the ways ginger is most used is to relieve stomach pain and clear the digestive system, as it helps eliminate excessive gas in the intestinal tract. Ginger can also relieve nausea and dizziness from motion sickness, as well as vomiting associated with symptoms of pregnancy sickness.
But without further ado, let’s look at some of most common forms ginger is found in.
This is the form that the full, raw roots are found in: pale yellow on the inside, with the skin somewhere on the brown to off-white colour scale depending on the plant’s origin. After peeling, it can be chopped, minced or grated into small bits; whichever shape is suitable for what it’s going to be used for.
Ground or powdered ginger
The spice form made from the dried root is widely used for sweets, curry mixes and other seasonings.
Also known as candied ginger, and probably the best way to get a kid to start eating ginger because it’s cooked in heavy sugar syrup, air dried, then rolled in more sugar. Basically: nutritional candy.
For the booze lovers among us, we’re in luck! Because you can now get ginger liqueur to mix into your favourite cocktails.
Now that you’ve got some ideas as to how ginger is prepared for consumption, here are a few examples of foods and drinks you can add ginger to.
Got a bit of an upset stomach? Make yourself a soothing tea by chopping some fresh ginger and pouring hot water on it. Leave it to sit for 2-3 minutes or longer, depending on how strong you want it. You can then remove the ginger pieces (or eat them, if you’re into that) and add a bit of honey and squeeze in some lemon juice for a burst of fresh sweetness.
Fresh ginger goes wonderfully in a hot winter soup with other fresh vegetables. Try adding some grated or pureed pieces with carrots or sweet potatoes, really any vegetable you prefer in a soup: it’s between you and your taste buds what ends up in the bowl.
Continuing with the theme of vegetables, why not stir fry some minced ginger, or alternatively, ground ginger with veg and rice or noodles? It’ll add an extra spark of spicy flavour and deliver delicious results.
A popular use of ginger is adding it to fish dishes cooked in the oven. Generally, shredded bits tend to taste nice with white fish like cod, bass and haddock.
If you have a sweet tooth and would prefer making something that brings out the sweetness of ginger, don’t worry, you can do just that in a number of ways. How about a pumpkin pie with ginger for Thanksgiving? Or what about a grapefruit and ginger meringue pie? Or how does a blueberry ginger cheesecake sound? In the baking world, the possibilities are endless. Here are links to the simple recipes of the desserts I’ve mentioned:
Love those sweet, fruity alcoholic drinks? Here’s an idea: try mixing grapefruit juice, any sparkling wine, and ginger liqueur together. Or take a spin on the classic mojito by using ginger beer instead of sparkling water, and topping it off with a slice of fresh ginger.
Don’t worry about missing out if you’re not an alcohol-drinker: you can easily substitute fresh grated ginger for ginger liqueur.
Now that I’ve given you some examples of what you can do with this humble yet powerful root, it’s your turn to experiment. Hopefully you’ll decide to incorporate ginger regularly into your diet in order to reap its curative and nutritional benefits, all the while enjoying its unique flavour. And don’t forget to have it with your sushi!