Four ideas for cooking with ginger

We usually buy more ginger than we need, so these recipes come in handy.
Ginger-Soy Salmon
Ginger-Soy Salmon [ Kay Hodnett ]
Published June 7, 2021

Fresh ginger is one of those ingredients I love to cook with, but I always buy more than I need. So our challenge this week is what to do with that leftover ginger. Our cooks came up with some creative dishes to share.

Sticky Soy-Ginger-Garlic Thighs

One dish comes from Amy Hollyfield, Times senior deputy editor of news, who was invited to join our friendly cooking contest after she posted a photo on social media of a meal she prepared with ginger. It looked so appetizing, we reached out. Hollyfield prepared a chicken dinner with soy, ginger and garlic.

“I’ve never cooked with fresh ginger, so YouTube was part of my mise en place,” she said. “After learning the best way to peel ginger is with a spoon, I found this recipe to be straightforward and easy. I used boneless chicken thighs, because my daughters won’t eat chicken with bones in it. I also went with vegetable oil, as the recipe gave it as an alternative. Fish sauce was a new ingredient for me, too. Surprisingly, it took a few stores to find it.”

Hollyfield said Sunday dinner is a staple at her house.

“I love picking new recipes and challenging myself with new ingredients or hours-long instructions. I adore Katie Lee Biegel so, of course, her new cookbook had to be mine. This was my first test and it won’t be my last.”

Sticky Soy-Ginger-Garlic Thighs
Sticky Soy-Ginger-Garlic Thighs [ Amy Hollyfield ]

8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

8 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely minced

⅓ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup fish sauce

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil

White rice, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Use a paper towel to thoroughly dry the chicken thighs. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to melt, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, continuing to stir, for another 1 to 2 minutes, until very fragrant. Stir in the vinegar, fish sauce and soy sauce. Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the coconut oil. Place the chicken in the skillet skin side down and let brown without moving it for about 4 minutes. (Do not overcrowd the pan; if necessary, cook the chicken in two batches.) Remove the chicken to a plate and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the brown sugar mixture. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits.

Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake, basting the chicken with the sauce midway through cooking, until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Set the oven to broil and broil until the skin is extra-crispy and browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve over white rice with the sauce.

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Source: It’s Not Complicated, Simple Recipes for Every Day by Katie Lee Biegel

Versatile Ginger Garlic Sauce

Taster’s Choice panelist Elaine Goller likes to add ginger to give her sauces a little heat. She created one of her favorite ginger sauces from a variety of different recipes.

“Ginger adds flavor to this easy sauce and it’s good as a drip or a dip for vegetables, roasted potatoes, cauliflower or asparagus,” she said. “Try it as a marinade for chicken, then mix with coconut milk into a warm sauce for chicken. Or a few adjustments will make this into a lovely salad dressing.”

Versatile Ginger Garlic Sauce
Versatile Ginger Garlic Sauce [ Elaine Goller ]

1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

2 cloves garlic, grated or minced

1 lemon (or lime), zest and juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons sherry

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

¼ cup tahini

Red pepper flakes, hot sauce or chili paste, to taste

¼ cup olive oil

Vigorously mix (or shake in a jar) all ingredients until well incorporated. This can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks.

To make a warm sauce, blend 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in ⅔ cup of low-fat coconut milk. (Regular milk works, too, if that’s all you have.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, to thicken. Stir in sauteed chicken and vegetables, chives and green onions, and serve over rice or couscous.

To use as a salad dressing, omit tahini and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup and a teaspoonful of toasted sesame seeds. Blend or shake vigorously.

“Substitute ingredients according to what you have on hand,” suggested Goller. “Start with roughly equal amounts of fresh ginger and garlic. It won’t take a lot because they aren’t cooked in the basic recipe.”

She said tahini, made from ground sesame seeds, adds a mellow creaminess to the sauce. “But don’t fret if you don’t have tahini,” she said. “Any nut butter will do, or you can leave it out altogether.” She added: “Parsley, cilantro, chives or spring onions are all appropriate additions as well.”

Ginger-Soy Salmon

Personal chef Kay Hodnett prepared Ginger-Soy Salmon for this challenge. It’s a family favorite and looks great on a platter, so it’s ideal for company or a fancy weekend dinner.

Ginger-Soy Salmon
Ginger-Soy Salmon [ Kay Hodnett ]

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons grated garlic

2 tablespoons honey

½ teaspoon sriracha

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound skin-on salmon, cut into 2 or 3 pieces

Chopped green onions, for garnish

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Jasmine rice, optional

Sugar snap peas, optional

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Place a large cast iron skillet or oven-proof skillet on a burner and heat on high for 8 to 10 minutes until the pan is smoking hot to prevent the salmon from sticking.

In a small saucepan, stir the ginger, soy sauce, orange juice, rice wine vinegar and garlic. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, remove from heat and stir in the honey and sriracha. Reserve a few spoonfuls of the sauce in a separate bowl for serving. Taste sauce. The fresher the ginger, the hotter it will be. Add more honey if desired.

Brush the olive oil evenly over salmon. Place the salmon skin side up in the hot skillet and cook 3 minutes undisturbed. When the salmon turns opaque on the sides and top, use a flexible spatula to flip the salmon skin side down. Brush the glaze over the top. Place the skillet in the oven and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Let rest 2 or 3 minutes, then garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve over jasmine rice and sugar snap peas, if using.

Ginger Blistered Green Beans

Julie Overton-Newland started with a recipe from called Slow Cooker Honey Lime Ginger Pork and paired it with her own Ginger Blistered Green Beans. “The beans are a perfect side dish for a number of main courses,” she said. And they offer another option for using fresh ginger.

Ginger Blistered Green Beans
Ginger Blistered Green Beans [ Julie Overton-Newland ]

1 pound fresh green beans

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Blanch the green beans and dry them.

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the green beans.

Stir the green beans to get a blister on them, then add the ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil mixture. Stir for about 30 seconds.

Remove from pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

The winner

Kay Hodnett’s Ginger-Soy Salmon made for great photos, but Elaine Goller’s ginger sauce was indeed versatile enough to be declared the winner of this challenge. That said, Julie Overton-Newland might be the ultimate winner because of this tip: You can always freeze fresh ginger if you have leftovers.