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Chinese cooking spice: Ginger root

Ginger root, along with green onion (scallion), and garlic are the 3 most popular spices in Chinese cooking. It should be peeled and finely sliced, julienned, or chopped before use. Fresh ginger is a common ingredient to Chinese dishes. It is used to neutralize excessively strong fishy flavors and to add its own aroma to more delicate seafoods.

Ginger is used in a number of ways in Chinese cooking. Mature ginger has more flavor and heat. It has a characteristic light-golden brown color and a thin skin. It is used in soups and stews, in marinades, pickled in vinegar for sweet and sour dressings. Young ginger has a pinkish, soft skin, and has a sharper flavor. It can be used in stir fried dishes, too, but it is most commonly served in pickled form, in a vinegar mixture, and served with duck eggs.

Avoid ginger that has started to look wrinkled or has discolored or moldy ends - it will be fibrous and on the dry side. Store ginger in a paper bag in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. It will keep quite well for weeks, but if you need to keep it longer, divide ginger into knobs, peel, drop into a wide-mouthed bottle and fill the bottle with dry sherry, then refrigerate. Never store ginger in a freezer, as the process of freeze and defrost ruins its flavor and texture.

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