If my New Year's resolution was to cook more meals at home, I'm not doing very well.
Recently, I went through my cupboards and freezer to clear out a bunch of old stuff, hoping to renew my cooking energy. Deep in my freezer were small bags of once-fresh ginger. I actually took the time to properly store it, thinking I was going to use the zesty root again. And I should have. It's one of my favorite flavors: tangy and peppery, yet slightly sweet. I also love its potential to ease a restless tummy. Growing up, ginger ale was one of my favorite drinks.
As the weather gets a bit chilly, I turn to warm homemade tea with lemon and ginger. (Take 4 cups of boiling water and add a 2-inch piece of thinly sliced ginger root and slices from 1 lemon and let it steep for about 20 minutes. Strain it, and sweeten with a little honey.) Try adding minced ginger to your morning smoothies for a little extra zing. And ginger works great in many cocktails; I love adding a teaspoon of fresh minced ginger to mint mojitos for some more tang.
But you don't have to only drink your ginger. It's the sweetly spiced star of these five simple recipes.
Brittany Volk, Times staff writer
Ginger Soba Noodles
When I think of ginger, Asian dishes automatically come to mind. Stir-frys are a no-brainer, but they require lots of chopping and standing over a hot pan. And sometimes a simple sauce over noodles and vegetables is all I have patience for. Boil water and prepare soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse them while they are still a bit firm or they will become mushy. Now, make the sauce. Grate a ¾-inch piece of fresh ginger over a bowl and whisk or blend it together with 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon canola oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce and ½ teaspoon sugar. Let the sauce sit for about 20 minutes to boost flavor. Pour over noodles and toss with any veggies you like, such as chopped carrots and cucumbers, red bell pepper, shelled edamame and scallions. Garnish with some toasted sesame seeds to feel fancy. Serves 4 as small main dishes. Recipe from food.com.
This fresh dressing is one similar to the one served on top of the simple iceberg salads at Japanese restaurants. Making it at home is easy once you collect all the awesome ingredients. The tangy ginger explosion can make a side salad the best part of your meal. Blend together until smooth, about 45 seconds: ½ cup minced onion, ½ cup peanut oil, ⅓ cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons minced ginger, 2 tablespoons minced celery, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Makes 1 ¾ cups. Recipe from spicysouthernkitchen.com.
Braised Grouper With Ginger, Shiitake Mushrooms and Bok Choy
Any white fish will do for this quick dinner recipe, but why not use Florida's fresh grouper? Season 4 (6-ounce) grouper fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan (not nonstick) over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then the fillets. Cook until fillets start to brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip fillets and reduce heat to medium. Add 4 cups vegetable stock, 2 heads baby bok choy (leaves separated), 12 shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger. Cover and cook until fish is opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Divide fish, mushrooms and bok choy among large bowls or soup plates. Pour stock over fish and vegetables. Garnish with scallions and jalapeno slices and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Serves 4. Recipe from sunset.com.
Roasted Winter Vegetables With Maple-Ginger Glaze
Sorry, veggies, but sometimes you need a flavor buddy to help us love you. Ginger comes to the rescue in this side dish and roasts alongside the veggies for a vibrant flavor that's unusual yet irresistible. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Start chopping lots of veggies: 2 to 3 parsnips (cut into 2- by ½-inch sticks), 3 to 4 carrots (peeled and cut into 2- by ½-inch sticks), 1 large turnip (peeled and cut into thin wedges) and ½ pound Brussels sprouts (stems trimmed and any wilted leaves pulled off; large ones halved). Take a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger and peel it, then slice it into very thin matchsticks, making about ⅓ cup. Spread the vegetables and ginger matchsticks in a large, low-sided roasting pan or a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat the vegetables and spread them so that they're just one layer deep. Roast the vegetables, tossing a couple of times, until tender and golden brown in spots, about 30 minutes. Combine 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger and 1 ½ tablespoons pure maple syrup. Drizzle the vegetables with the maple-ginger mixture, toss, then roast for another 5 minutes. The vegetables should be very tender and browned in spots. Serves 4. Recipe from finecooking.com.
The holidays are over, but that doesn't mean you can't indulge a little right now. Ginger and chocolate boast some health benefits, so let's just pretend this recipe is good for you. The two flavors go together nicely in this simple brownie recipe that's an "adult twist" on a classic kid dessert. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Line bottom of dish with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over 2 sides. Butter parchment; set aside. Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter and 3 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup sugar, ⅔ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt and ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves. Pour batter into prepared dish and bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Lift out, and let cool completely on rack. Cut into 16 (2-inch) squares. Recipe from marthastewart.com.