At one time or another, we’ve probably all sipped a subtly sweet and sudsy ginger ale to aide a bellyache, heeding the advice of Dr. Mom. Or, perhaps in an act of bravery or double dog dare, we ventured out to try the pickled pink shavings on the sushi plate in attempt to mellow out the hotter than expected green play-dough looking matter (what we later learned to be wasabi). But beyond this, it’s rare that most of us take the unfamiliar food risk and chance a culinary disaster to harness the flavor enhancing and health promoting properties of the lowly ginger root.
Ginger, although quite common in many traditional Asian dishes, has rarely been used in North American cuisine. However, given its recent notoriety as a super food and a fiery flavor enhancer, it’s now used more commonly in homes and restaurants than ever before.
What makes ginger so sought after is its more than 80 different nutrients and phytonutrients that aide in treating aliments such as motion sickness, nausea during pregnancy or following one too many cocktails, and inflammation. Ginger has been touted for it’s immune boosting properties and even has research linking it too cancer reduction.
Fresh ginger carries far more health promoting properties than dried or powdered, and while ginger ale may seem to be the antidote to all that ails us, chance are there’s little to no actual ginger in the syrupy drink. (Sorry, Mom!)
So how then can we harness the health properties of ginger at home without getting a culinary degree? Try these 5 quick tricks to savor the flavor and turn up the heat!
1. Peel fresh ginger with a paring knife and slice, dice or mince before adding to a drink or dish.
2. Naturally enhance your water or tea by slicing a few chunks of ginger, squeezing a fresh lemon and sweeten with a splash of local honey.
3. Make your brown rice less boring by grating a bit of ginger into the pot while it simmers.
4. Move over ranch dressing! Mix up a few teaspoons of minced ginger with a dash of soy sauce and a spoon full of olive oil for a quick and delicious salad dressing.
5. Sautee or steam your vegetables with a touch of ginger to enhance the nutrient content as well as the flavor.
What is your favorite way to use ginger? What local restaurants seem to use it best?