Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.
Ginger, the plant, is that aromatic, pungent and spicy herb that adds a special zest to stir fries, cakes, meats and fruits and vegetables. Available year-round, ginger is the underground stem, or rhizome, of the ginger plant. Ginger as a medicine has been with us since ancient times. This hearty, tasty and versatile plant is a staple in many cuisines around the world.
Fresh ginger is relatively inexpensive and can be found in most produce sections. Ginger roots should have a smooth skin, emit a spicy aroma, be firm to the touch and feel heavy for their size. Avoid ginger that is wrinkled – the wrinkles indicate that the ginger has been on the shelf too long and could be bitter. Ginger does not need to be peeled, but if you do want to peel it, use a paring knife. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks if left uncut.
The flavor of ginger is magical in teas, delightful in cakes and amazing in stir fry. The level of the ginger’s intensity in a dish depends on when you add it to the cooking processes. When it’s added at the beginning the flavor will be subtle; add at the end, and the flavor will be more intense.
The following recipes will let you experience ginger in all its glory and subtleties.
Ginger Chicken for One (meat)
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces 1 tablespoon oil 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh ginger root 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 cup chopped green onions 2 tablespoons toasted almonds cooked rice or noodles, optional
1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until onions turn golden brown.
2. Add chicken pieces, stirring constantly so they don’t stick together. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the pieces are almost done.
3. Add in the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Heat to a simmer, stir once or twice and then cover and cook about 3 minutes. DO NOT OVER COOK.
4. Stir in the green onions. Remove from fire and place the chicken on a plate with rice or noodles. Top with toasted almonds.
Ginger Beef (meat)
1 pound tender steak (sliced into thin strips) 3/4 cup cornstarch 1/2 cup water 2 eggs 1 large carrot, finely diced 3 green onions, thinly sliced 1/4 cup fresh minced ginger 2 tablespoons minced garlic 3 tablespoons soy sauce 4 tablespoons rice vinegar 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1/2 cup sugar 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes oil
1. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Whisk to blend.
2. Beat the eggs into cornstarch/water mixture. Add the sliced steak strips and toss to coat.
3. In a small bowl combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine and set aside.
4. Pour 1 inch of oil into a wok or skillet. Heat to medium hot and add about a 1/4 pound of steak at a time and cook, stirring to keep the pieces separate. Cook until crispy. Drain the beef on paper towels. Repeat until the meat is cooked.
5. Drain all oil out of the wok except for about 1 tablespoon. Add green onion, carrots, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds to a minute (don’t cook too long, you don’t want the vegetables to get too cooked).
6. Add the sauce to the wok and bring the mixture to a boil. Add beef, heat thorough and serve immediately.
Tip: This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Ginger Peachy (meat)
4 chicken breasts, boned, skinned 1 can (10 to 12 oz) peach slices 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained 2 cups hot cooked rice 2 cups fresh or frozen pea pods, cooked
1. Add the oil to the skillet and heat to medium high. Add the chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender and no longer pink. Make sure all the pieces are browned then remove them from the skillet but keep them warm.
2. Drain the peaches, saving the juice. Add water to juice to equal 1/2 cup.
3. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch, ginger, and salt. Add the juice and whisk to combine. Add the liquid to the skillet. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more.
4. Gently stir in chicken, peaches and water chestnuts and cook until heated throughout. Place the rice on a platter and top with the mixture.
Gingerbread (dairy or pareve)
3 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 3/4 teaspoons salt 1 1/4 tablespoons ground ginger 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 cup margarine or butter 1/2 cup sugar 1 large egg 1 1/3 cup molasses 1 cup room temperature water
1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray or grease a 9X13 baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Set the mixture aside.
3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and margarine and beat until fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl and add the egg. Mix until just combined and then add the molasses and mix just to combine.
4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Slowly add 1/3 of the water and 1/3 of flour mixture, alternating until both are incorporated. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.
Orange Ginger Salmon (pareve)
1/3 cup orange juice 1/3 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup honey 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 green onion, sliced 4 salmon fillets 2 tablespoons sesame oil
1. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, honey, ground ginger, garlic powder and green onion.
2. Place salmon in a large glass dish and pour marinade over them. Turn to coat and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Preheat a grill with the sesame oil in it. Discard marinade and cook the salmon for 6 to 8 minutes a side or till fish flakes easily with a fork.
Ginger Snaps (pareve)
1 cup brown sugar 3/4 cup oil 1/4 cup molasses 1 egg 2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon ginger 1 teaspoon cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 to 2 cups white sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl, add the brown sugar, oil, molasses and egg. Mix to combine.
2. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt to the egg mixture. Mix to combine into a dough.
3. Form the dough into small balls about the size of a half dollar then roll them in granulated sugar.
4. Place the balls on a greased cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart and bake for 10 minutes.
Ginger Salad Dressing (pareve)
Servings: 1 (approx 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup minced onions 1/2 cup peanut oil 1/3 cup rice vinegar 2 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 2 tablespoons minced celery 2 tablespoons ketchup 4 teaspoons soy sauce 2 teaspoons sugar 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed for about 30 seconds or until all of the ginger is well-pureed.
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, kosher.com and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.