So, with this big hole in my knowledge of culinary history, I duly packed my bags and headed off to the Internet to find myself a plethora of ginger information. Safe in the knowledge that it would take some time to sift through fact and fiction, I was hopeful that I would get to the roots!!!
The use of Ginger can be traced back almost 5000 years. It has also been suggested that it may have even been used before history began being recorded - somewhat of a paradox that my mind cannot fathom! Many cultures in Asia consider it as a cure for a series of ailments (allegedly one of the best hangover cures; but this has yet to prove successful for me!)
Although predominantly cultivated in Asia, ginger found itself transported to other continents very early on. This was mainly due to the belief in its medicinal properties (particularly good for digestion) as well as its flavour in cooking. It appears that the Romans first brought it to Europe 2000 years ago and it’s never really left. Although still mainly produced in the Asian region, we are major consumers of this adaptable ingredient. On a side note, I discovered that Queen Elizabeth I was the inventor of the Gingerbread Man. However, as this little nugget of information comes from the Internet, I would probably take it with a pinch of salt…..
What I love most about Ginger is the heat that comes from it as well as the flavor. It has an almost spicy quality which is definitely evident when it’s dried and ground up. But served fresh, Ginger is an absolute delight. You need to take a small amount and dice it up finely then mix it with some diced chilli, shallots, coriander, lemon juice and olive oil. (I wouldn’t recommend biting into a whole piece as it will bring tears to your eyes!) You then season it and use it as a dressing for a spinach salad or toss it with cooked pak choi. Make sure you use fresh though as the crystalized ginger we often see is great for cake baking but not as an accompaniment for your main course. Similarly, slices of pickled ginger are great for cleaning the palate when eating sushi but not as good for making stir fry.
When cooking at home, we have ginger in our food at least twice a week. I like to include it into at least one dish on my menus – and even sneak the odd ginger snap into my tea now and then . . .
Well, here endeth the lesson on G for the week. We are starting to look busy over the coming months in Weymouth and Dorchester. If you are interested in using us to host a dinner party or wedding event, then be sure to contact us. We also offer excellent private chef services for the whole of Dorset and even into Somerset and Hampshire. Check out the rest of our website