This time of year, the evenings and mornings in Tucson can be a little chilly. We may succumb to the cold or even the flu.
So now is the time to use a little ginger in your cooking. Ginger is one of the world’s oldest and favorite spices. For culinary purposes you can buy powdered or fresh ginger. Fresh ginger can be found in supermarkets in the form of rhizomes, which grow under the ground. Fresh ginger has a thick and chunky root-like appearance with a thin brown skin. The inside flesh is quite pale.
The Chinese often use ginger in their cuisine and in the West it is used I baking and for candies. The pungent flavor of ginger complements many dishes.
Using ginger in the kitchen makes a great deal of sense, as ginger itself can help aid digestion. For baking powdered ginger is typically used but it really does not have the flavor derived from fresh ginger. If you use fresh ginger instead of powdered you will only need one part of fresh ginger to six parts of powdered.
You may slice and store pieces of fresh ginger for up to three weeks in your refrigerator, a long as you do not peel it. Ginger is a very warming herb. You can make a ginger flavored tea just by steeping about six slices of ginger in hot water.
LEMON AND GINGER DRINK
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups simple syrup; 6 slices of fresh ginger root
1 cup sugar; 1 cup water
Firstly, make the simple syrup.
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
6 slices of ginger root, finely chopped
Bring the water and sugar to a boil until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the finely chopped ginger and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Cool. Meanwhile squeeze enough lemons to make two cups of fresh lemon juice.
Strain cooled ginger syrup into a large pitcher. Add the strained lemon juice.
This drink is good hot or cold. If you find the drink too tart, add a little liquid honey.
GINGER PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE
2 cups cooked basmati rice; 3 tablespoons canola oil; 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh peeled ginger; 4 scallions (white and green parts separated) finely chopped
Pinch salt; Three quarter cup diced fresh pineapple or if not available substitute canned pineapple.; One teaspoon dark Asian sesame oil
Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke add the chopped ginger, white and pale green parts of the scallions. Sprinkle on the salt and cook for about one minute. Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to the pan and crumble in the cooked rice, until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat. Now add the scallion greens, pineapple and sesame oil. Toss to combine.
This dish can be used as a side dish for cooked shrimp or diced cooked chicken.