Fresh ginger puts in a zing

March 04, 2001

The clean, hot flavor of fresh ginger warms and refreshes like no other seasoning ingredient.

An essential flavor of Chinese cooking, ginger is of inestimable importance to Asian dishes. Fresh ginger resembles a thick, knobby root with pale brown skin and moist gold flesh. The fresh root -- really an underground stem called a rhizome -- is nothing like dried, ground ginger; the latter is no substitute for fresh ginger.

Whether ginger should be sliced, minced or grated depends on the dish. For stir-fry, ginger is best minced or chopped by hand. Unless the root is extremely firm, a food processor spoils the texture of the flesh and separates the juice from the fiber.

Nor does grating create the right texture for stir-fry; a knife is preferable. Some recipes call for smashing ginger to release the juice into a marinade. To smash ginger, place the knife flat atop the ginger and then pound the flat blade with your fist.

SUCCESS TIPS:

When selecting fresh ginger, choose crisp, hard pieces that snap cleanly and easily.

Fresh ginger will keep for a week or more in the crisper section of the refrigerator. For longer storage, wrap in paper towel and store in a plastic bag. To prevent mold, change paper as it absorbs moisture from ginger.

Peel ginger if the skin is tough and mature; young ginger requires no peeling.

--Cole's Cooking A to Z

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