Saturday, May 26, 2012

Joys of Ginger

Practical person that I am (well, perhaps obsessive-compulsive is the more accurate descriptor...), I used to avoid recipes that called for ginger seeing as it's highly perishable and impossible to buy in small quantities.  After just 2 days in the fridge, all those knobs of ginger purchased in order to obtain the one measly tablespoon of the freshly grated stuff would be soggy, stringy, and discolored.  But those dark days are behind me, ever since I found Marc Matsumoto's delightfully simple solution to my ginger-itis: how to make fresh ginger last.  Peel it, submerge it in vodka (or your tasteless, odorless, colorless ethanol of choice) and presto, you're stocked up with fresh, ready-to-use ginger for days - weeks, even!

Obviously, this revelation has led to a 500% increase in my use of ginger and that's good news, since ginger happens to be one of those handy foods that not only makes everything infinitely more delicious but also delivers a load of health benefits: it is said to settle the stomach, reduce pain and inflammation, prevent cold and flu symptoms, and it even works as a heartburn remedy.

Here are a couple of tasty ways I've used my arsenal of ginger lately:

Ginger Chicken (adapted from Marc Matsumoto's recipe)
Makes 4 servings

1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 bunch scallions, white and green separated, thinly chopped
sesame seeds for garnish

Rinse and pat dry the chicken thighs.  Combine the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger and garlic in a bowl and toss with chicken.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken in a single layer, leaving space between each piece (you may need to cook it in batches).  Regulate the temperature so that the marinade doesn't burn (too high) yet the chicken doesn't leech water (too low) - you want it just right to get that nice crust dark brown crust.  Fry one side of the thighs, then flip and fry the other.  Remove to a plate.

Wipe the burnt bits out of the pan and add the rest of the marinade and the white part of the chopped scallion, returning the pan to medium-high heat.  Bring the marinade to a boil and return the chicken to the pan.  Turn the chicken pieces as the sauce reduces, until you have a nice glaze that's sticking to the chicken.  Serve garnished with green scallion and sesame seeds, over rice.

Homemade Ginger Ale
Makes about 8 cups

4 big knobs ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup honey, or to taste
1 liter seltzer
Lemon slices for garnish

Combine the ginger and 4 cups water in a pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer about 40 minutes.  Strain out the ginger and mix in the honey, stirring until it's totally dissolved.  Transfer to a container and chill.

When ready to serve, mix 1 part seltzer to 1 part ginger brew in each glass, with a slice of lemon and a few ice cubes.


Kate said...

That ginger trick is awesome, cuz!

Kate said...
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