Green Beans, Cooking with Fresh Ginger
Many ethnic foods in the United States have seen a surge in popularity over the years but this does not mean that all diners of ethnic foods are familiar with the ingredient preparation.
A good example of one of these ingredients is fresh ginger. At a recent market trip, a woman excited about cooking a new Chinese recipe stopped me in the aisle to inquire if ground ginger would be an equal substitute for fresh ginger.
The idea that this woman personally asked me this question seemed more than coincidence and sent my antenna up saying: New Blog Post on Cooking With Fresh Ginger.
We took a stroll to the produce isle together, I hope her Chinese dish turned out well.
Fresh ginger is an important ingredient and essential to many cuisines around the world.
Using fresh ginger is easy. You simply cut off the skin. From there, you cut against the grain and slice lengthwise then into very thin matchsticks or, chop, mince, crush to a paste, grate, whatever the recipe calls for.
If the technique “slicing against the grain” makes you hesitant if you will know what the grain is, then ignore the point. Slice off the skin and proceed cutting the ginger lengthwise then into very thin matchsticks or chop, mince, crush to a paste, or grate whatever the recipe calls. There is no substitute for fresh ginger.
Although many supermarkets now carry fresh ginger, and fortunately they had suitable ginger on the day I met the woman about to make her special Chinese recipe, mostly I find the Asian/International market the best source because there is most often a huge pile of fresh stock.
When you buy fresh ginger, it should be a light tan, brownish color and it should be firm. Wrinkled, dried out ginger is not fresh.
The fresh spicy aroma of ginger also adds to the flavor in a dish and ginger combines well with many dishes.
Fresh ginger has a rather exciting history with uncertain origins. China used ginger widely dating back to the sixth century BC. A cookbook written by Emperor Shen Nung refers frequently to ginger.
That cookbook mentioned in the book, The Art of Eating by the late M.F.K. Fisher noted “in forty seven centuries we have not learned much more about food than it can tell.” True or not, still it exhibits through past writings the knowledge and widespread use of ingredients, including ginger, dating back centuries.
Ginger was also widely used in India. Meat is stewed in ginger in the 4th century Hindu Epic Mahabharata. The Sanskrit mentions ginger.
From Plant Journals to Encyclopedia’s and every research piece in between some say that ginger is from southern China, others say India. Many horticulturists have the view that due to India showing the largest amount of genetic variation indicating the origins of ginger are from India. The fact is, despite the validity of suspects, and that the medicinal benefits of ginger are commonly agreed, the true origins of ginger are unknown.
When we arrive at the Silk Road ginger reaches the Middle East through Arab traders over 2,000 years ago and maritime routes of both the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. Mentions of ginger are also in the Koran.
Records show that traders sold ginger to both Greek and Roman civilizations.
Many food goods and spices are traded along the Silk Road but on this topic, author, Laura Kelley best shares a knowledgeable history on the ingredients and divergent patterns of cultural foods along the Silk Road.
On Friday, August 1o the Post will feature Laura’s cookbook: The Silk Road Gourmet, Volume One: Western and Southern Asia, A Journey through the Cuisines of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. This cookbook is filled with many interesting and excellent dishes, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
In order to prepare many ethnic recipes there are some ingredients you will need to learn to use and fresh ginger is one of these ingredients. To be acquainted with using fresh ginger I provided this simple recipe with fresh green beans.
Once you have easily mastered preparing fresh ginger and using it in your dishes, you will emerge ready to prepare many of the diverse cuisines from throughout the world.
Green Beans, Cooking with Fresh Ginger
- 1/2 pound fresh green beans, tips and strings removed then cut in half on an angle
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
- 3 scallions, finely chopped, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- pinch of cracked black pepper
- Boil water in a large sauté pan, add some salt
- Tumble green beans into the boiling water and cook for two to three minutes, drain
- Wipe out pan, add 1-2 Tablespoons of oil and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan
- On medium low heat, add in the ginger, garlic, and scallions, cook for one minute
- Stir in the green beans, cook two minutes
- Add in the rice wine, stir
- Pour in the soy sauce and sesame oil continuing to cook another minute
- Reduce heat to low and cook to desired doneness