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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fresh Ginger Tips

Fresh Ginger Tips

During cooking classes, my students always say that they love the taste of fresh ginger, but complain that it’s a pain in the butt to peel and chop! Half of the students shamefully admit that they buy the pureed stuff that comes in a jar or tube.

Eeewwww!

Call me a ginger snob, but that jarred pureed stuff is just plain nasty and chemically tasting. There is definitely something suspicious about a food item that sticks to the roof of your mouth. Especially when it’s not chocolate, peanut butter or caramel.

So, I’m going to share with you some of my ginger secrets….

Ginger is actually a root, the rhizome of a name of a plant I can’t say 10 times fast, “Zingiber Officinale.” It’s one of the ingredients that I use in my everyday Asian cooking.

How to store ginger

  • Refrigerate: I use ginger so much that I buy a big massive root once every couple of weeks. The best way to store ginger is place it in small paper bag in your vegetable crisper drawer. I used to tightly wrap it in plastic wrap, but then one day while pregnant with Andrew and HIGHLY emotional, I felt sorry for the ginger suffocating in the wrap and started crying. Don’t ask. I can’t explain.
  • Freeze: When I have one of those moments at the store and forget I that I already have 2 pounds of ginger in the refrig…and end up with ginger overload, I use a the handy microplane grater to grate the entire root. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on your counter and spoon the ginger on top in a nice even line. Roll up tightly, twist the ends (hmmm….reminds me of something i used to to do when i was in college) like a piece of candy and freeze. When you need, just unwrap, snap off a chunk and it defrosts quickly. Or just regrate on your microplane grater while frozen. What a clever idea from Lunch In a Box!

How to cut?

How I want to use the ginger determines how I cut the root.

  • Flavor the oil: Sometimes, I don’t want a strong ginger flavor in a dish, but I want my oil to be fragranced and flavored by the ginger. Wash well, don’t bother peeling. Cut the ginger into 1/8″ coins. With the side of your knife, “whack” the coin to break the fibers a bit and release the essence. Heat up your cooking oil in a wok or pan on high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the ginger coins (usually about 3 coins) and let the ginger fry for 30 seconds. If I want a little stronger flavor, I turn my heat to medium and let the ginger infuse the oil for a little longer. Don’t let the ginger burn! Combine the ginger with smashed garlic cloves and you have a start to a classic Chinese stir-fry. At this point you can remove and discard the ginger.
  • In stir fry, sauce, dressing: There’s nothing more annoying than getting a fibrous piece of ginger stuck in your teeth. No matter how long you spend at your cutting board mincing this stubborn root, it’s never going to be as fine as the method I use. I use a microplane grater (photo above) to grate my fresh ginger. It works wonderfully and you can see that the fiber stays on the root and doesn’t end up in your dish. You’ll end up with fine, silky, clean ginger. Easy and it only takes 15 seconds to grate enough for your dish. I also have a Japanese ceramic ginger grater but it’s a unitasker that takes up space in my drawer. Simply put, the microplane grater is an indispensable tool in my kitchen, and I use it for everything, especially ginger. Hate peeling ginger? It’s an awkward affair with all those bumps, crevices and curves. Yes, you could use a spoon, but pssst….here’s a secret….I don’t always peel it. If you use a microplane grater, most of the peel stays out of the way. Because the ginger is so fine, you’ll have to take extra care not to burn. Start with a wok at medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add the grated ginger and stir fry for 15 seconds. Turn heat to high and immediately add your stir fry ingredients. Sometimes, I don’t add my ginger and garlic until the middle of the stir-fry process, to ensure that the delicate aromatics do not burn.
  • As a condiment: Sometimes I love sprinkling fresh ginger threads on top of my dumplings, steamed chicken, noodle soup or vegetables. I want the fresh, crisp, tingly sensation – but if the ginger piece is too thick, it’s just too strong and fibrous. If you are REALLY good with a knife and have the patience of a sloth-watcher, slice the ginger as thin as you can. But I’m not patient, nor really that deft with sharp, pointy objects. I cut off all the little knobs protruding from the main body of the ginger. I just want a nice 3″ smooth piece (save the nubs for #1 above). Peel ginger skin with vegetable peeler. Now continue using the vegetable peeler and peel paper-thin slices of the ginger root. After you’ve got a pile of slices, line them up and use your chef’s knife to cut further into ginger “threads.” You’ll end up with fairy angel thin slices that you can use fresh, uncooked.

***

PBS Telethon

One of the coolest things I’ve done this month was to see the live production of PBS’ fundraising telethon.  This is the legendary Jack Perkins and my friend Jen who is the producer of his Emmy Award winning show, the Gulf Coast Journal with Jack Perkins. Jen produced the lovely segment that I was featured in.

This is where all the magic happens. Look at all those buttons! I just want to push them ALL!!!!

Nice, expensive cameras that have long, thick cables, perfect for tripping 5’2″ Chinese girl with 3″ heels.

Support your local PBS and donate!



117 Responses to “Fresh Ginger Tips”

  1. Jeff — 12/2/07 @ 12:09 pm

    I once dated a girl named Ginger Tips.

    She was kind of fresh, too.

  2. Dan — 12/2/07 @ 12:20 pm

    Ahhh…. Burned ginger.

    I think the house still smells dreadful in certain corners from the last time I scorched my ginger several years ago. Nasty!

    Ya know. I never thought once about grating it and freezing the pulpy little pile to break off however much I need at a date to be named later. That’s going to definitely save me a lot of old ginger. Of course, if only I had read this yesterday before cleaning out my fridge…

    I think we need to synchronize our watches or something, Jaden. You usually come up with the great tips several hours after I need them.

    Ah well… Enjoy your Sunday.

    Gingerly,
    Dan

  3. Katharine — 12/2/07 @ 12:41 pm

    OH! I *have* a ‘ceramic ginger grater’. I didn’t know that is what it is. My mother (who gave it to me) and I have always used it to grate nutmeg! Now I know and can get double the use!

    Thank you for all the great tips! The scent of fresh ginger is one of a handful of things that automatically lift my spirits! I had heard that freezing it was a good way to have it on hand, but DUH! never thought of pre-grating!

  4. Sarah C. — 12/2/07 @ 1:08 pm

    What a great idea to grate the whole root and freeze it. I tend to stick the whole thing in the freezer without grating but one end, the cut one, always gets a bit of freezer burn so I end up wasting it when I cut it off.

    I got a tip from somewhere regarding how to peel ginger roots easily: use the edge of a spoon to scrape off the skin. That way you also dont end up cutting off the tasty root bit.

  5. Pepy — 12/2/07 @ 1:16 pm

    Jaden, you shared a good tip…Thank you
    I personally love fresh ginger and don’t mind to peel and chop

  6. Melinda — 12/2/07 @ 1:24 pm

    Agree with all of the others, that the grating first then freezing idea is excellent. I have frozen the whole root before. Now why didn’t I think to grate it up first? Doh!
    I love the fact you buy things you already have loads of. My own personal binge buy is celery and toilet paper. You can never have too much toilet paper but you can have too much celery. My husband goes mad when he counts that I have 4 bags of celery.
    Doh, again!

  7. joanne — 12/2/07 @ 1:42 pm

    My microplane zester is kept where the sharpening rod belongs in my knife block. I love that thing and use it for everything. The weather makes a big difference in the storage of ginger. Growing up near San Francisco, we never kept our ginger in the fridge. Mom always kept her ginger in a little woven basket on her kitchen window sill, the rest she would keep in a cardboard box. Mom loves her ginger, and we tease her about it all the time. In fact this last summer I caught her purchasing 3lbs of ginger! My uncle came over and noticed it too and was amazed. I forgot to ask her how long that lasted. You would think the whole summer, but maybe not.

    The studio looks exciting and frightening at the same time. Hee hee, I got two inches on you! Which means that much more height to fall from.

  8. argus lou — 12/2/07 @ 1:55 pm

    I need that microplane grater, and have no idea what it really is. (I’m not fully paying attention, am I, Mrs Steamy?)

  9. meeso — 12/2/07 @ 1:56 pm

    I love the ceramic wrap idea for storing ginger. I always use to freeze it in one big lazy blob, then when i needed it, I would take a butter knife and stab it crazily to chunk off what I needed :D I think this idea will be much more efficient…and less scary!

  10. blondee47 — 12/2/07 @ 2:07 pm

    thank you, thank you, thank you—ginger has been the bane of my existance….i use it about once or twice a week and usually wind up throwing out the piece that is left in the fridge because it is all shriveled. I also freeze the ginger but then it becomes watery when i grate it….now I know how to freeze it properly: grate it first…..this is going to make a WHOLE difference

    love this tip

  11. Tia Nguyen — 12/2/07 @ 2:51 pm

    I love ginger! Thanks for the great tips. I need to get a microplane grater like that! ^_^

  12. Patti A. — 12/2/07 @ 2:53 pm

    Like Sarah C., I peel my ginger with the edge of a spoon. So easy! I store pieces of peeled ginger in the fridge in a small jar of dry sherry. The ginger stays firm and you also get ginger-flavored sherry to use in your recipes. I just remove it from the sherry and grate it with the microplane or slice it. For now on, I’ll be using my veggie peeler to cut thin slices of ginger.

  13. Lisa — 12/2/07 @ 4:07 pm

    “Roll up tightly, twist the ends” — hey, there’s something I’m good at.

    That’s an excellent ginger storage tip, thanks!

  14. Bkhuna — 12/2/07 @ 4:25 pm

    I’ve always been partial to Mary Ann, but ginger will do in a pinch.

    Seriously, thanks for the tips on storing! I always hated tossing out old ginger due to lack of use.

  15. Katie — 12/2/07 @ 4:39 pm

    I always patiently mince mine with a knife – the micro-planer makes a lot more sense, and I love the freezing idea!

  16. JEP — 12/2/07 @ 4:49 pm

    Hey, this was definitely helpful–thanks!

  17. african vanielje — 12/2/07 @ 4:58 pm

    That is such a beautiful pic of the ginger. I must invest in a microplane grater. They look so efficient. I also love fresh ginger which can’t be replaced. Bottled is like having synthetic vanielje. Yes I know I’m a food snob

  18. veron — 12/2/07 @ 7:31 pm

    Yep! the microplane zester rules. One tip I learned from my cooking classes was to peel ginger skin with a teaspoon. It seriously works and takes care of the knobby areas.

  19. Neece — 12/2/07 @ 7:56 pm

    Great ginger tips! I never thought to grate it then freeze it. That’s brilliant! And ginger is so good for you too. It helps you digest your food, especially meat. Or so I’ve read.

  20. Kat — 12/2/07 @ 8:13 pm

    wonderful tips!

  21. Nathan — 12/2/07 @ 9:25 pm

    I definitely agree on the jarred ginger. It’s nasty.

  22. rhesuspieces — 12/2/07 @ 9:43 pm

    Or, you can just stick the whole root in a little pot of soil on your counter, where it will last for a very, very long time. Just break off what you need when you need it. It won’t go bad, per se, but will eventually kind of get soft when it starts to sprout, in which case, you have a new house plant. Enjoy.

  23. Maryann — 12/2/07 @ 9:45 pm

    Great info about ginger. Thanks. Thanks also for visiting my blog :)

  24. LunaPierCook — 12/2/07 @ 10:23 pm

    I’ve always loved Ginger. We never dated though, so I was never able to root around or even get fresh. Of course she was spicy but after a while she kinda grated on me though. I just told her to can it, figuring we were never meant to spoon …

  25. Siri — 12/2/07 @ 11:48 pm

    Seriously chopping fresh ginger is a pain and hate the pureed stuff! Lovely post..:)

    Thanks

    ~ Siri

  26. tigerfish — 12/3/07 @ 1:28 am

    I hardly see ginger root around! Boy, I love ginger in all forms!…errr….maybe except Ginger Spice. Buahahahah!

  27. kellypea — 12/3/07 @ 3:02 am

    I love my microplaner…and it loves my knuckles. The tip on freezing the ginger in a “tube” is excellent. Thanks!

  28. Nags — 12/3/07 @ 3:12 am

    that’s a beautiful pic :)

  29. Manisha — 12/3/07 @ 3:36 am

    Hey! You’re right about ginger being a rhizome. However, a rhizome is not a root.

    Ginger is not a root! Sorry! But this is one of my pet peeves!

  30. I would feel bad for the suffocating ginger, too. :) Thanks for the tips – I don’t use ginger very much in daily cooking here in Italy, but I would love to start. I think the freezing option is good for me!

  31. Maya — 12/3/07 @ 8:45 am

    You go girl!!!!

  32. Miss T — 12/3/07 @ 11:32 am

    I have a ceramic ginger grater, but I’ve found the microplane actually works better. And the sink sprayer is great for getting ginger fibers out of the microplane!

  33. bee — 12/3/07 @ 11:38 am

    have you tried digging the ginger root in a pot of sand? it is believed to prolong its life. i read this tip in a chinese cookbook.

  34. Katelyn — 12/3/07 @ 12:43 pm

    Another tip for peeling ginger is by scraping off the skin using a spoon. I find this method less wasteful, quick and easy.

  35. Pingback: Gingery suggestions from Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen | Look What I Cooked

  36. Pingback: Gingery suggestions from Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen | Look What I Cooked

  37. Mellie — 12/3/07 @ 4:06 pm

    Yumm…. you just can´t beat ginger! Loooooove its taste….. *dreaming about sprinkling julienned ginger over steamed fish*…. it is a shame that young ginger is hard to find around my area. Thanks for the great tips, will keep that in mind the next time.

  38. Elaine — 12/3/07 @ 4:06 pm

    What a wonderful tip, Jaden. I will definitely be using it ;)

    Thanks!

  39. Gertrude — 12/3/07 @ 4:34 pm

    That is a really good tip Jaden. I will definitely freeze my grated ginger that way. Thanks !!

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  41. Zenchef — 12/3/07 @ 6:59 pm

    I love the idea to roll and freeze fresh grated ginger!
    I think Rachel Ray uses the tube stuff, one more reason to oust her…
    :-)

  42. Cris — 12/3/07 @ 8:08 pm

    I use a lot of ginger here too, so good to season shrimp and chicken! Like your ideas! I usually freeze the whole thing and shred whatever I need. This microplane is such a neat gadget!

  43. Lynn — 12/3/07 @ 8:10 pm

    I always keep ginger in the freezer for making ginger tea. I never thought to pre-grate, though. You’re so clever! Who took the picture of your hands holding ginger? Are you clever enough to take a picture of your own hands?

  44. Lydia — 12/3/07 @ 8:13 pm

    Great tips for ginger! I love the idea of freezing the grated ginger in a tube, and breaking off what you need. Kind of like freezing stock in ice cube trays — so clever!

  45. SteamyKitchen — 12/3/07 @ 8:23 pm

    hey guys, I’m glad you enjoyed the tip. Go visit Lunch in a Box, my new fav blog – the tip and photo is from her. She is super talented and puts my packed lunches to shame.
    http://ss-biggie.livejournal.com/39719.html
    ;-)

  46. Cynthia — 12/3/07 @ 8:28 pm

    Thanks for those very useful tips.

  47. daphne — 12/3/07 @ 9:25 pm

    if only i can have a ginger overload here. Love the freezing tip though. it’s hard to get ginger here in Perth and even if we can, the price is ridiculous!

  48. Kevin — 12/3/07 @ 9:47 pm

    Freshly grated ginger is amazing. Thanks for all the tips.

  49. Barbara — 12/3/07 @ 10:42 pm

    I love the idea you have for freezing the ginger! I’m going to try that the next time we buy some.

  50. Sui Mai — 12/4/07 @ 6:31 am

    Oooh, reading this right after I made ginger sweet soup! How fitting.

    I want a microplaner for Xmas now. I’ve been resisting for way too long…

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