Week 37: Ginger
The spice ginger is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant. The flesh of the ginger rhizome can be yellow, white or red in color, depending upon the variety. It is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thick (more mature) or thin, depending upon whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young.
It is native to southeastern Asia and has been around for millennia. Ginger is mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings, and has long been prized for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties.
Gastrointestinal Relief: Ginger helps prevent motion sickness, cramping, nausea and vomiting (especially during pregnancy).
Anti-inflammatory Effects: Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. Patients with arthritis have found less pain and improved range of motion with the addition of ginger in their diets.
Cancer Protection: Gingerols may also help to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells and induce the death of ovarian cancer cells in humans.
Selection and Storage:
Whenever possible choose fresh ginger over the dried form of the spice since it is not only superior in flavor but contains higher levels of gingerol ,as well as, ginger's active protease (it's anti-inflammatory compound). Fresh ginger should be firm, smooth and free of mold. The skin is often thick (due to its maturity) and requires peeling. Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled.
If purchasing dried ginger, try to select organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated. Ginger is also available in several other forms including crystallized, candied and pickled.
The taste that ginger imparts to a dish depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. Added at the beginning, it will have a milder taste, at the end it will be more pungent in flavor.
This recipe for honey, lime and sriracha chicken (from Once Upon a Chef) is in our monthly meal rotation. I make shrimp or tofu for me and chicken for the others. It is so tasty with a little spice, depending on the amount of sriracha added.