Recipe Corner Cooking Techniques

Ginger: East Meets Wow

Ginger CrystallizedYou're never actually "introduced" to ginger. Instead, you're more likely to "encounter" it (if your palate were a party, ginger would be the warm, fun-loving crasher who makes a grand entrance and raises eyebrows). A spicy staple throughout Asia, the root's appearance may seem modest and unassuming -- okay, downright ugly -- yet its flavor is anything but.

Ginger's distinctive bite is so enticing and addictive that it is considered a fundamental ingredient to master when you're cooking Indian or Chinese cuisine. Or Jamaican or Senegalese, for that matter: During its travels from East to West, ginger has never met a stranger.

Noted for its beneficial properties in ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, ginger gets the circulation going and satisfies a cranky digestive system. We've seen culinary remedies that showcase ginger's range: Indian recipes that call for milk & ground ginger to ease an upset stomach; ginger tea with honey for a sore throat in Puerto Rico; the Japanese tradition of eating pickled ginger after each piece of sushi or sashimi in order to safeguard oneself against bad fish.

Safeguard, remedy, cure or what have you, the warmth of ginger is reason enough to sample its sweet spiciness. Just use a small slice of the fresh root or a pinch of the powder to add an Asiatic flavor to sauces, marinades and dressings. Because the flavor blooms gloriously as the temps climb, ginger works well with high-heat cooking such as grilling and stir-frying -- but definitely maintain a light-handed approach: Ginger doesn't just steal the show, it gives an encore performance.

Which you'll adore. Experience a taste of East meets West in this recipe for Peach-Ginger Barbecue Glazed Texas Shrimp.