Ginger up your life for vitality and flavor.

The Cook loves ginger and is on the list of culinary must haves.

     Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale. That’s a mouthful of botanist lingo. Let us lay-persons just call it a root stalk and move on. My horticulturist partner informs me that ginger, cardamom, and turmeric are all related. No wonder that the Cook uses those spices regularly as well.

    Ginger is most often cultivated in China and South Asia but recently Africa and the Caribbean, Jamaica in particular, have been producing the plant as well. It is used as a perennial landscaping plant in warmer climates because of the aesthetic appeal of its yellow flowers. The culinary uses of ginger are numerous, and considered a quintessential flavouring in Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Southeast Asian cuisines.

    There have been numerous claims of medicinal uses and cures using ginger. The Cook cannot elaborate on this other than to have the readers do research into these uses. So… let us return to the tasty, but sometimes hot, Cooks culinary uses for this versatile root.

     Stir-frying with ginger first comes to mind. Fish, meats, poultry, and vegetables all lend themselves well to cooking with ginger. But… the Cook loves a more liquid state to the use of ginger and there is not a better formula for ginger syrup than Chef Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger – ginger syrup.  (See: http://www.ming.com)

     When purchasing ginger, look for young ginger. Young ginger will give you a softer and slightly less hot taste and is preferred by the Cook. Look for stalks that have nice smooth skin – no wrinkles. If you are making infused drinks with ginger, then the mature older stalks, with wrinkles usually, are just fine as they will yield a more intense flavor.

    The Cook loves ginger syrup for flavouring drinks, smoothies, frappes, and as a topping for numerous desserts. Vanilla, lemon, or berry gelato or ice cream with a drizzle of ginger syrup is both simple and elegant and will finish off any type of meal. Try it, you will love it too.

    Another great dessert is a plain custard or tapioca topped with your favorite in-season berries and a light pour of ginger syrup. If you are a fan of Tofu, try the ginger syrup on a square of tofu and garnish with a few finely chopped roasted peanuts. This a dessert found in Thailand, where the tofu is scooped out and layered with a hot ginger sauce poured over and served with roasted sesame seeds.

    Since the Cook has been instructed to keep things short, the Cook will leave you with a recipe for a mild version of ginger syrup but encourages you to check out Ming Tsai’s version. It is super!

Use your imagination with this versatile root. Ginger will reward and awaken your culinary palate.

 Thanks for reading and see you next time.

 The Cupboard Cook.

 Simple Thai Ginger Syrup

¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ cup of water
2-3 tablespoons of thin sliced or 1/8 inch diced peeled ginger

     In a medium sauce pan, bring the water, ginger, and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat, and simmer until the liquid has reduced by one-half. The liquid should look syrupy and if drizzled onto a plate, it should hold a ribbon. Cool to room temperature or use warm if the recipe calls for it. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator for a few days but it is best when used fresh.

 Ginger Lemonade

 32 ounces of your favorite lemonade mix
½ cup of ginger syrup
Sparkling water or club soda to taste

     The Cook uses fresh squeezed lemon juice (Meyer lemons preferred), but you can use your favorite ready mix and prepare as directed on the package. To this, add the ginger syrup and about 1 cup of sparkling water. You could also use your favorite ginger ale.

    For another taste, try brewing you favorite tea and mix ¼ cup of the lemonade to the tea and add ice.