*  Exported from  MasterCook  *
 
                              Ginger (Nytimes)
 
 Recipe By     : John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger
 Serving Size  : 1    Preparation Time :0:00
 Categories    : Ginger                           Information
 
   Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
 --------  ------------  --------------------------------
                         ginger root
                         ground ginger
                         crystallized ginger
 
 INTRO: Ginger: the spice, native to tropical Asia, contributes to food a
 freshness similar to Citrus. It is also said to have a number of health
 benefits
 
 In traditional American cooking, ginger is used to flavor cakes and
 cookies, including that bizarre confection known as a gingerbread person.
 But to 2.5 billion people living in southern Asia, fresh ginger is a taste
 nearly as ubiquitous and familiar as salt.
 
 Native to tropical Asia, ginger has been cultivated in China for at least
 3,000 years. It is a bedrock ingredient in every regional cuisine of that
 vast country.
 
 Ginger is also used in virtually every traditional savory dish of the
 Indian subcontinent, Sri Sanka and Southeast Asia. In these regions it is
 often pounded with other spices to form a paste, which is then sauteed as
 the first step in cooking a dish.
 
 In Japan, ginger is typically pickled or grated and then squeezed to
 extract the juice, which is used to flavor meat and to dress salads.
 
 Ginger is widely believed to calm the stomach, cure colds and coughs,
 increase appetites both sexual and gustatory, and generally cleanse and
 purify the body. Highly aromatic, floral and pungent, with undertones of
 lemon and a slightly astringent quality, ginger contributes to food a
 freshness similar to that of citrus. It also helps to round and harmonize
 other flavors.
 
 Ginger’s chemical makeup helps explain its flavor. It contains an unusually
 high proportion of volatile oils -- even for a spice -- a characteristic
 that accounts for its strong aroma. And its pungency is provided not by
 capsaicin, which is responsible for the heat of chili peppers, but by the
 much gentler gingerol.
 
 Despite its frequent designation as “ginger root,” ginger is not actually a
 root. Instead it is a rhizome, an underground stem that grows sideways,
 rather than down, and has roots of its own. The ginger rhizomes grow at the
 base of a tropical evergreen plant that may reach as high as four feet
 above the ground, sporting a double row of narrow, glossy leaves and
 yellow-purplish flowers.
 
 Fresh ginger is gaining fans in the United States and is available in
 supermarkets around the country. This new-found popularity is an example of
 history’s cyclical nature, for ginger was once an important component of
 European cooking.
 
 Ginger was popular in ancient Greece and Rome. Its origin, like that of
 other spices that came overland from Asia, was cloaked in myth by the
 Middle Eastern merchants who brought it to their European customers.
 
 So popular did this costly flavoring become that the word “ginger” came to
 stand for spices in general, and shakers of powdered ginger were often put
 on the table along side salt and pepper.
 
 Shortly after Europeans discovered their own routes to the sources of
 ginger in the 1400s, however, heavy spicing began to lose favor, and
 subtlety of flavor became the mark of refined dining. Only recently have
 European and American cooks begun to reexamine cooking with a lot of spaces.
 
 Ginger is a natural for experimenting, not only because it is compatible
 with other ingredients but also because it requires little preparation. It
 does, however, have to be peeled to be eaten.
 
 The older ginger gets, the more likely it is to be fibrous. This does not
 affect its flavor, but is a problem if you are planning to use the ginger
 raw and in matchstick form. If the ginger is too fibrous, grate or mince it
 instead.
 
 When selecting fresh ginger, look for stems that are firm and heavy, with
 relatively clear skin. To store ginger, wrap it in paper towels, place in a
 plastic bag and refrigerate. It will keep as long as two weeks.
 
 --Released by New York Times News Service, reprinted in Riverside
 Press-Enterprise, Aug 30, 1998 (Sun) MasterCook from kitpath@earthlink.net
 
 
 
 
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