Cooking with Fresh Adrak

 

Fresh ginger's tangy freshness, light spiciness, warmth, and mellow sweetness complement a range of dishes, from sweet to savory. It can be a dominant flavoring, or it can work in conjunction with other flavors. Beyond the traditional Asian applications like stir-fries and dipping sauces, ginger is equally at home with such an everyday ingredient as maple syrup. I like to combine the two to make a glaze for meats and vegetables. Ginger can also be infused into milk and cream to make a tangy custard or ice cream. Even the unlikely combination of tomatoes and ginger works well. The sweetness of the tomatoes is a nice counterpoint to the sharp, spicy notes of the ginger. I can't think of a fruit or vegetable that can't be paired with fresh ginger. And ginger has a natural affinity to meats, poultry, and fish.

 
Preparing Adrak for use in a recipe

Ginger can be sliced into planks or matchsticks, chopped, grated, puréed, and minced, depending on its final destination.

I use minced, chopped, or thin matchsticks of ginger when I want a textural component as well as flavor. The thin slivers of ginger roasted with root vegetables  become irresistibly crisp and chewy, while the small bits of minced ginger in the couscous pilaf recipe provide occasional bursts of warm, spicy flavor. Planks or slices are perfect for infusing flavor into a broth.

When it's just the flavor and essence of the ginger that I want to capture, I grate it. In thesalmon recipe, I add grated ginger to the almost-finished tomato sauce, infusing it with a heady aroma and bright freshness. I also use grated ginger in salad dressings and dipping sauces, or whenever the ginger should have a smooth, nonfibrous consistency to readily blend in with other ingredients.

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    Planks: Diagonally slice the ginger across the fibers to cut it into planks, which I use to infuse flavor into liquid. Cutting planks is also the first step to making matchsticks or a mince.
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    Matchsticks: To cut ginger into julienne-style matchsticks, stack the ginger planks (at left) and slice them into thin strips.
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    Minced: To take the ginger to the chopped or minced stage, turn the stack of matchstick pieces 90 degrees and chop to the consistency you want.
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