Ginger Root,Zingiber officinale, is from the familyZingiberaceaeand is closely related to galangal,turmericandcardamom. It is a rhizome, not a root, so it produces roots below the ground and shoots above ground. It is a subterranean plant that grows horizontally. In Sanskrit ginger was known as “shringavera”, which translates to “shaped like a deer’s antler.”
Ginger is a quintessential ingredient of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and multiple South Asian cuisines for flavoring dishes such as goat meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes. Ginger plays a starring role in numerous Indian dishes. In Arab countries, ginger is combined with other spices to add flavor to couscous, tangines and slow-cooked meat dishes with fruit. In this country ginger is probably most recognized as a baking spice in cakes, cookies and pies, and is often used in combination with other pungent spices and strong flavors, such as molasses.
Ginger is extremely popular in baking. Ginger breads, cakes, and cookies are all widely used recipes, especially during the holidays. This is not a recent development, as ginger in baking has been prevalent since colonial days.
Ginger pairs well with carrots, pumpkin, winter squashes, sweet potatoes and fruits such as bananas, pears, pineapples and oranges.
Ginger works well in combination with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, dried fruits, honey, nutmeg, nuts, preserved lemons, paprika, pepper and saffron.
Dried vs. Fresh
Drying ginger subdues its brightness in favor of bringing its sharper notes to the front. Fresh ginger has a pleasant citrus undertone, with fresh young ginger owning the ability to cut through even the most brutal of all the chile pastes famous in southeast Asia. Fresh, it is being used more frequently in everyday products like salad dressings, or in seafood based meals. It can also be found in many a stir fry.
If you’re looking to infuse tea with ginger, dried versions are your best bet. The drying process concentrates the flavors of ginger, making a long steeping time ideal for bringing them out individually again. Dried versions are also best for pulverizing and baking into delicious treats like the famed gingerbread men of wintertime.
What does Ginger Taste Like?
Ground ginger is peppery and warm with lemon undertones. You'll also notice a fiery taste with a pungent aroma.