What To Look For
When buying fresh ginger, look for pieces that have smooth, fresh looking skin with no signs of bruises, mold, or dried out spots. Wrapped in paper towels, it can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Dried ground ginger cannot be substituted for fresh ginger.
Ground ginger is very aromatic, but lacks the pungent spiciness of the fresh rhizomes. It needs to be kept in an airtight container and has a limited shelf life, like all ground spices.
How To Use It
The fresh rhizomes are covered with a thin peel, which need to be carefully removed with a sharp knife before further use. It can then either be grated, sliced, or finely minced. The less ginger is being cooked, the more fresh, pungent, and heady its aroma, which comes out best in stir-fries, where the ingredients are cooked over very high heat for a short period to retain their texture.
In Thailand, ginger is one of the main ingredients in curry pastes, which are cooked together with coconut milk, vegetables, and meat. In Indonesia, similar spice pastes containing ginger are used to flavor grilled meat and fish. Ginger tea, which is made by briefly steeping fresh slices of ginger in boiling water, is a popular drink in many Asian countries. In Chinese cuisine, ginger is used in stir-fries as well as in sliced form in clay pot dishes and in steamed dishes.
In India and Sri Lanka ginger is usually fried in oil or ghee (clarified butter), resulting in a mild aroma that lacks the spiciness of briefly cooked ginger.
Dried ground ginger:
Ground ginger is used in Western dishes, such as cookies (Lebkuchen, ginger bread), soups, or savory sauces. It is also part of different spice mixes, such as curry powder, Ethiopian berbere, and Chinese five spice powder.
Pickled and candied ginger, ginger jam:
Thinly sliced young pickled ginger (gari) is an essential condiment in Japan served along sushi. Small pieces of fresh ginger are also available in syrup, as well as candied. Candied ginger is very tasty on its own, or as an ingredient in cakes and cookies. Fresh ginger can also be made into jam, which is mainly popular in Great Britain.
Ginger ale and ginger beer:
Ginger extracts are used to flavor the popular soft drink ginger ale, as well as ginger beer.