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Cooking with Gingerroot

May 11, 1999

By Meg H. Partington / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




What gingerroot lacks in appearance it makes up for in flavor.

"I consider it a sweet spice," though it's not sugary, says Jackie Newgent, a spokeswoman for American Dietetic Association. Some consider it spicy sweet, she says.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Gingerroot is grown in tropical and subtropical regions.

"So many people shy away from it because of its appearance," Newgent says.

"When you look at it, it kind of has arms and legs," says Sheri Bailey, an employee of Common Market Food Co-Op in Frederick, Md. Because of these human-like qualities, it became known as a healing herb, she says.

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For a strong medicinal tea that soothes colds, peel a 1 1/2-inch gingerroot with a knife - a peeler will remove too much of the ginger - and finely chop it. Add to 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of water and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Strain tea, reserving ginger as seasoning for a recipe to be made later.

Honey may be added to make the ginger tea more palatable, Bailey says.

Newgent, also an instructor at Peter Kump's New York Cooking School in New York City, says she uses gingerroot in Asian cooking - particularly stir-fried dishes - and in carrot-based concoctions, such as carrot ginger soup.

Gingerroot can be coarsely grated and added to oil in the beginning stages of stir-frying, Bailey says. She also finely grates it into a paste-like substance that she mixes in with dried herbs in the final stages of stir-frying.

Bailey also grates ginger for use in gingerbread. While being grated, gingerroot can get stringy, but she says the strings can be cut away and discarded.

"My favorite way is to smash it all up," Newgent says.

The gnarly root also can be chopped finely if being used for sauteeing or sliced thinly if you're striving for more texture and a more attractive appearance.

Steve Cheng, manager of Imperial Chinese Restaurant in Hagerstown, says the chefs at the restaurant use ground gingerroot in their sauces, which he says are spicy, but not "hot spicy."

Another option is to finely grate the root and squeeze the juice out for use as a seasoning, Bailey says.

When shopping for gingerroot, strive for firmness and a fresh and spicy scent, Newgent says. Avoid any pieces that are mushy or have wrinkled skin. If you put your nose to it and smell nothing, put the gingerroot back in the bin.

Cheng says the root can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three weeks after being used, but doesn't recommend wrapping it in anything because doing so may cause the root to rot more quickly. Just let it sit in the crisper, Bailey says.

The root also can be left out in the open to dry, Bailey says.

RECIPES -- >
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