Ginger is such a great flavor. I know many people who are head-over-heels for it. Next Monday I will be eating my weight in Ginger while I support a good cause: the Joslin Diabetes Center at Spoonful of Ginger – their annual benefit at the MFA to support the Asian-American Diabetes Initiative. I love to help out places like Joslin because Diabetes research is SUCH AN IMPORTANT CAUSE. We all know someone affected by either type 1 or type 2 Diabetes and it’s becoming more of a problem all the time. So go, get a ticket, eat some delicious ginger infused dishes and help Joslin find a cure.
My big sister, who you’ve heard me talk about here in the past, has recently started her own blog, called donatio olfaciendi causa - a lifestyle blog, she writes on style, perfume, makeup, books, and other miscellany. She and I share a very similar palate so when she was talking about writing a post on ginger as a condiment and flavor I suggested she do it as a guest post for me. I love it almost as much as she does!
I like ginger a lot.
A relative of turmeric, cardamom and galangal, this spicy rhizome can play for both the sweet and savory sides. Compelling and versatile, it is available in many forms, most of which I have in my life.
Here are some favorite incarnations:
raw: The spice impact is at its best. Peel it with a spoon and then: steep it to make tea, put matchsticks in your stir fry or curry (or salad!), add peelings to mixed drinks…and pretty much anywhere you add garlic, just add ginger, too. Ginger is good for you.
ginger juice: A great way to add a touch of ginger to beverages and soups.
minced ginger: The tough fibers make it kind of difficult to puree ginger yourself, and I find I’m more likely to use it if I have something ready to go. I like the Ginger People brand for being organic and having really powerful spicy flavor across their range, but I’ll take anything I can get.
pickled ginger: This is the classic sushi accompaniment but I could eat it anytime, anywhere. I maintain that it plays well with any combination of rice and soy, and is a wonderful palette cleanser as well. It’s not too difficult to make yourself, either. The only difficult part is cutting the ginger thin enough, a job for a mandoline.
powdered ginger: Get high quality and it will show in your baking. I like Penzey’s best so far.
[powdered galangal: Galangal is a relative of ginger but more powerful, spicier, entirely distinct. It comes up in Asian cuisine, and is for me associated predominantly with Thai notes. Substitute for ginger sometime and see what happens.]
tea: Great when you’re sick, a good alternative to lemon for a toddy, and just…good. Provided you like ginger. Especially with honey. Straight or blended, I like. Can also be added to certain soup stocks (think ramen, or chicken soup) for a great, diffused flavor.
cookies: There are snaps, of course, which I love, but lately I gravitate toward these Ginger Thins from Trader Joe’s. Dead ringers for Anna’s ginger thins. These are what made me realize what great friends ginger and cheese can be. On a slightly unrelated note, the Coconut Thins are also extremely good.
crystallized: Snack on them or chop them up and put them in cookies.
jam: you know, jam… (mix it with a berry jam to make things in the world of toast more interesting)
lip balm: If you like ginger or mango, this lip balm is the one: Kiss My Face Ginger Mango lip balm
fragrance: Ginger is, sadly, not the most popular perfume note. I don’t know why, though. It’s spicy and fresh at once, unisex, akin to citrus but more interesting, on account of not being citrus… Have found one I like, this Marc Jacobs Cocktail Splash. Dominant notes of ginger, citrus, and rhubarb (Rhubarb! Really! Go smell it.). Unfortunately only sold in this enormous bottle. I am testing out a lot of other supposed ginger fragrances, some of which have potential, but this is the only one I own so far. Origins also do a ginger line (perfume, lotion, etc), though I say it is too sweet, and not gingery enough. That said, this Paul Mitchell wild ginger line smells just like the Origins ginger perfume, and I am loving it. [Finding great smelling hair products is a bit more difficult, I think, so my standards are lower.]
And of course there is ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger chews, ginger liqueur, ginger essential oil, ginger soap, ginger syrup…
Look for my follow-up post next week where I’ll share my recipe fro candied ginger! So good!