Saturday, February 4, 2017

Slice and Dice: Ginger

Worn out versus fresh ginger
I took a class on the cuisine of Levant in culinary school. One day, the instructor stopped by my station while I was sauteing onions and garlic. I told him that I really wanted to toss in some fresh ginger as so many of the dishes that I learned from my mom combine all three ingredients. He laughed and replied, "Ah yes, the holy trinity of Indian cooking!" 

Fresh ginger brings verve to Indian cuisine, Chinese cuisine, and dishes from many other regions of the world. If you’ve resolved to part with the routine in 2017, seek out the citrusy aromatic in the produce department. 

Ginger looks like an odd shaped hand with knobby fingers. Break off a piece or two from a plump stem with smooth skin (see example on the right above). Avoid chucks of ginger that are wrinkled (see example on the left above). You can store it unwrapped in the fridge for up to one month. 

How to Peel Ginger

It’s best to remove the skin (which has the shade and roughness of a paper bag). Begin by breaking off any small knobs and cutting off the rough end.

Break off nob from hunk of ginger

Cut off dryends of ginger

Cut off dryends of ginger
Some people use a spoon to remove the skin. Other use a knife or vegetable peeler.

Using a spoon: In one hand, nestle the ginger between the base of your index finger and the base of your thumb. With your other hand, clasp the spoon between the stem and the head. Scrape the edge of the spoon against the skin as you move it up the side of the ginger. Rotate the ginger and repeat until all the skin is removed. 

Peel skin with a spoon
Using a vegetable peeler: Hold a piece of ginger vertically on a cutting board. Run the vegetable peeler down the ginger. Turn the ginger and repeat until all the skin in removed.  

Remove skin with a peeler
How to Slice Ginger 

Place a piece of peeled ginger on a cutting board. Pinch the ginger with your extra hand to hold it in place on the cutting board. Position the knife at one end of the ginger and slice into the ginger widthwise. Move the knife across the length of the ginger until it is sliced completely. 

Slice ginger width wise
How to Mince/Dice Ginger 

Hold a chef’s knife over the ginger slices. Place the other hand on the back of the knife. Rock the knife back and forth over the slices and mince finely.

Rock knife over pile of sliced ginger
How to Grate Ginger  

Hold the microplane in one hand at a 45-degree angle, with the tip resting on a cutting board. Hold a piece of ginger so one end touches the grating surface. Slide the ginger down the microplane. Tap the tip of the microplane on your cutting board to remove any ginger that is clinging to the microplane. 

Slide ginger across microplane
How to Create Ginger Matchsticks 

Some recipes, such as stir-fries, call for long, thin slabs or sticks of ginger. Here’s how to prep ginger for those dishes.

Place a piece of peeled ginger on a cutting board. Hold a chef’s knife in one hand. Pinch the ginger with your other hand to hold it in place on the cutting board. Square off the ginger by cutting the rounded sides to form four right angles. After cutting the first side, rest the flat surface you just created on the cutting board to stabilize the ginger, and continue to cut the ginger into a rectangle. 

Create matchsticks of ginger
To create thin slabs of ginger: Pinch the ginger with your extra hand to hold it in place on the cutting board. Slice the ginger by moving across the ginger lengthwise until it is cut completely. As you do this, remember to keep your fingers curled in and out of harms way.

To create matchsticks (julienne): Stack the slabs you just created. With your extra hand, hold the stack at one end to keep it in place. With your other hand, slice along the length of the ginger, through the stack.

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