We’re all gingered up this week, showcasing one of the most appealing among the warm spices, and one that is incredibly versatile, also health-giving with considerable medicinal properties.
Hot, spicy, fresh, it was already popular in the days of the Roman Empire, was prized in medieval England and is regarded as essential to Asian cooking.
Slice it, juice it, grate it, mince it or preserve it in vinegar or sugar, but make sure to have some on hand at all times. Pickled in sweetened vinegar, as the Japanese do, ginger produces an indispensable accompaniment to sashimi. Glacé ginger in syrup has become pricey, but if you like it enough, you can preserve it yourself at little cost.
Slice fresh ginger into strips and heat it in good olive oil, then cool and bottle, and keep in the fridge. This makes a delicious flavour base for stir-fries and dressing.
Jazz up winter fare with fried ginger: deep-fry finely shredded ginger in hot oil until golden and crisp, and use to garnish salads and soups.
Combat colds and relieve tummy aches with ginger tea: infuse slices of fresh ginger and lemon rind in boiling water for three minutes, then sweeten with a little honey. Start your weekends with a cleansing drink of apple, carrot and pineapple juice, to which you add a cube of fresh ginger and blend until smooth. Santé!
Ginger and macadamian nut cookies
Among the many irresistible goodies in Tina Bester’s cookbook Bake, published by Quivertree, this is both easy and extra-delicious. As she says, this is the ultimate milk and cookies recipe, so dunk away!
60g castor sugar
60g brown treacle sugar
1 large egg
150g self-raising flour
50g macadamia nuts, chopped
2 walnut-sized pieces glacé ginger, chopped
1 walnut-sized piece fresh ginger, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Beat together the butter, sugars and egg.
Stir in the flour, nuts and ginger and mix together well.
Place tablespoons of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for 12–15 minutes. Makes 10–12.
The original recipe was developed by Nico Verster’s grandmother and he has developed it into a gourmet dessert, which he includes in his cookbook Savannah to Sea. He recommends it be served bathed in vanilla custard. For his gourmet finale, he adds lemon wafers and home-made vanilla ice cream.
50g ginger preserve, sliced
2 tbs golden syrup
175g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g unsalted butter, softened
125g castor sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs full-cream milk
250g cake flour
250g icing sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup egg whites
1 cup melted unsalted butter
2 tsp lemon zest
For the pudding: Grease 6 small ovenproof pudding bowls. Scatter the sliced ginger on to the bases and drizzle with the golden syrup.
For the batter, sift the flour and baking powder in a bowl, add the butter, sugar, eggs and milk and beat with an electric whisk. Pour into the bowls, cover with aluminium foil and tie the foil with string to ensure a tight-fitting lid.
To steam, half-fill a large saucepan with boiling water. Place the bowls in the pot (the water should reach halfway up the sides of the bowls) and bring to a simmer. Steam for 45 minutes, topping up with boiling water if needed.
Make the lemon wafers: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Sift the flour, sugar and ginger together in a bowl. Mix the egg white and melted butter into the flour mixture. Leave to cool in the refrigerator.
Thinly spread the mixture on a silicone mat and sprinkle with lemon zest. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool and cut into triangles. Loosen the sides of the puddings with a knife and turn out on to a plate. Pour over any extra syrup. Serve with hot vanilla custard, lemon wafers and vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.
Oriental spices, including a good dose of fresh ginger, give a lift to this soup, an excellent counterpart to miserable weather. Reduce quantity of chillies, or replace with ground black pepper. I have added onion and powdered coriander to the ingredients and increased cooking time, but the base recipe comes from The New Cook by Donna Hay, published by Murdoch Books.
1kg sweet potato, peeled and chopped
15ml sunflower oil
2tbs shredded root ginger
2tsp cumin seeds
2tsp powdered coriander
2 red chillies or to taste
2 stalks lemon grass, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups coconut milk
1tbs palm or brown sugar
Half cup fresh coriander leaves (dhania)
Cook sweet potato in boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat oil, add ginger, cumin, coriander, chillies and lemon grass and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Combine sweet potato and spice mixture with a little stock and process or blend until smooth.
Return mixture to a heavy saucepan, add remaining stock, coconut milk and sugar and bring to a simmer. Heat through. Taste for seasoning. Serves 4.
Honey, ginger and lime prawn sticks
From Sarah Graham’s second cookbook Smitten, this delicious seafood creation which can be grilled but, she insists, tastes a lot better when cooked over a hot barbecue. They would make a marvellous starter to a celebratory winter outdoor feast.
6 - 8 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes
400g whole prawns, shelled and deveined
1 chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tsp grated fresh ginger
1tbs lime juice
1tsp soy sauce
1tbs chopped fresh coriander, basil or mint
lime wedges for serving
Rinse the prawns and set them aside to dry. If using immediately, pat dry with paper towel.
Mix the remaining ingredients, except the fresh herbs, and pour over the prawns. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Skewer 3 prawns on to each stick, heads and tails almost touching. Cook over hot coals for 3 minutes on each side or until just done. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of fresh herbs and lime wedges.
Serves 4 as a snack.
Myrna Robins, Cape Argus