Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to do something with that ginger you bought last week.
I’m geeked that so many of you are excited about The Ginger Challenge series, because honestly, I wasn’t sure how it would go over. But I’m glad to know that plenty of people are in the same boat as me – you just need a little direction and a gentle nudge to learn to use a new ingredient, and then it can become one of your standards.
This week’s posts are going to share LOTS of ideas to use ginger in recipes, including a roundup of ginger recipes from around the real foodie blogosphere and a slow cooker ginger beef that my family absolutely loved, courtesy of Stephanie at Mama and Baby Love and her Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes eCookbook.
The goal of today’s Monday Mission is to give you some strategies to use ginger without needing a recipe, since I firmly believe that is a vital step to confidence and consistency in using an ingredient.
Why is the Monday Mission on Tuesday?
Two reasons – first, I’m not very good at "eating my frog" and working ahead, so my posts are written at the last minute. (But it’s my goal to get a week ahead so I have time for editing – I can’t wait until I reach that point!!)
Second, my parents were able to come into town yesterday for the afternoon/evening/today, in between consultations and evaluations for my dad’s bladder cancer. It’s the kind of thing where even I’m smart enough to realize you just say, "Yes, please, come on over!" and drop your millions of plans, cancel your staff meetings, send out a quick newsletter asking for help on our 2014 reader survey instead of the content-rich one I had planned, and clean the bathrooms. Nothing is more important than family. I knew you guys would understand…
(Speaking of, will you help with the reader survey too? I need advice!)
Back to the topic at hand…
Using Fresh Ginger
Most recipes that call for fresh ginger list it as a certain number of inches of ginger root. Personally, I find this annoying because you never know how thick or knobby someone’s ginger is going to be, but we’ll just have to deal with that little eccentricity of ginger now, won’t we?
To get your ginger from the root (or "knob" as some call it):
…to be ready to put in recipes, most people either slice, grate, or puree it. Remember that when we learned how to store fresh ginger, we found you can freeze it whole, peeled or unpeeled, or sliced, grated or pureed, plus preserve it in alcohol in the fridge too! How you store it may depend on how you end up enjoying using it the best.
A really common and really simple way to just use ginger without even having to look up a recipe is simply to include it in your next stir fry. Slice some meat, chop some veggies, and use fresh ginger as you might fresh garlic – added quickly near the end of the cooking time, or at least near the end of the long cooking time.
For example, if I’m making a stir fry, I’ll cook the meat first and remove it because I really don’t want it overdone and tough. Then the onions, peppers and mushrooms need a good saute, at least 5 minutes or 10-15 if I can spare it. The broccoli, pea pods, and greens only require a brief steam/saute, so I’ll add them, cook with the lid on for a few minutes, then get the meat back in to warm up before serving.
Where does fresh garlic or ginger go in all this? I would add it just before the quick-cooking veggies. Give it a good stir and about a minute with all the soft onions and such, and then mix in the rest of the ingredients.
How much to add? Start by using a microplane grater (found on Amazon) to grate about a tablespoon and see how you like it. If you’re freezing your ginger, you could freeze pre-grated ginger in one-tablespoon plops or ice cube trays and just grab one or two for each stir fry, easy peasy! Some folks also very thinly slice the ginger for a stir fry, or even make extremely thin slices by using a regular vegetable peeler. Those would need a few more minutes to cook, I’d imagine.
fish and baked meats
Another simple simple main dish that you shouldn’t need a recipe for is baked fish or chicken. Just choose your favorite herbs and spices, maybe some EVOO, some lemon juice or culinary vinegar, and bake until done. (Here’s more on how to cook fish at home, including 5 ways to prepare it easily.)
Sadly only two of us in the Kimball household enjoy ginger in smoothies, but if you dig it, smoothies are a wonderful way to enjoy the benefits of raw ginger without altering your meal plan (provided you make occasional smoothies). Warning: there’s no hiding ginger in a smoothie, in case you were wondering.
About this much…
If you have a run-of-the-mill blender, you might want to either freeze it pureed or grated, or test your blender with some thin slices and see how it does in obliterating the chunks.
Here’s one I’m just not sure about – prior to challenging myself to use fresh ginger, I used plenty of dried ginger, but most often in things like these pumpkin pancakes and other sweet "pumpkin pie spice" type of applications.
Can one use fresh ginger in baked goods, or would it just be too overpowering? I’m guessing a totally ginger-based recipe would be great, but I wonder about mixing it with other spices too. Anyone know?
How are you going to use ginger this week?
Check out the rest of the series here…
Disclosure: There are affiliate links to Amazon, Tropical Traditions, Mama and Baby Love, BOTW, and Vitacost in this post from which I will earn some commission – it doesn’t change your price to click on them, but it does help keep the free content flowing here at KS. Thanks!