Spice it up with ginger

Ginger is used as a spice around the world – and for good reason. Dried ginger adds a spicy kick to foods and can be delicious in baking, but in many recipes is really a poor substitute for the more subtle and complex flavours of fresh ginger. Here’s how to grow ginger at home and a few recipes to bring this spice into your cooking.

Growing ginger
Ginger is a tropical plant, so it must be grown indoors or in a greenhouse. Grocery store ginger can easily get you started: in the spring choose fingers which have a shoot bud developing. It will look like a small pyramidal horn at the end of the root. Then cut the root off at least 5 cm from the bud.

Bury the finger bud upwards in a 20cm diameter pot of loam-based compost. Keep warm and constantly moist. You will likely need to repot the plant once or twice as it grows. Go up one pot size at a time and gently loosen roots as you repot. Once the ginger has started to grow, feed every two to three weeks with a general potted-plant feed.

In the autumn, reduce the watering and let the pots dry out. This step will encourage the plants to form rhizhomes. Lift the rhizhomes carefully and use in cooking.

Carrots with ginger
This recipe pairs sweet carrots and tangy lemon with the slight heat of fresh ginger for a fantastic side dish.

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice + ¾ cup water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place all ingredients except parsley in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil; cover and cook 4 minutes. Uncover and simmer until liquid has mostly evaporated to a glaze over carrots, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Chicken adobo with ginger
Adobo is a Philipino method of cooking chicken. Every family has their own variation but this one, according to a friend of the family, is on its fourth generation as a favourite dish. Serve with white or jasmine rice.

4 chicken legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks, with bone
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 bulb garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger root
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

Using olive oil, brown chicken in a large saucepan or dutch oven; during the last few minutes of browning add garlic and ginger to pot. Mix soy sauce and vinegar; pour over chicken. Add peppercorns to pot. Add water until chicken is covered. Bring to a boil over medium heat; then simmer for 30-45 minutes, basting chicken occasionally if necessary.

Use slotted spoon to remove chicken. Strain liquid to remove food particles and use as a sauce for rice.

Ginger tea
Ginger tea helps to reduce nausea, and also is said to help with aches and pains. It doesn’t get much simpler than this!

4 cups of water
2 inch piece of fresh ginger root

Peel ginger root and slice into thin slices. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it is boiling, add the ginger. Cover it and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the tea. Add honey and lemon to taste.