I’m on a roll with kitchen hacks right now, and it wouldn’t feel right to share my garlic tricks without also giving some love to ginger.
Ginger, or ginger root (since this is the root part of the plant), is commonly used for food and some medicinal purposes. You can buy ginger in powdered form, which has great uses for seasoning savory dishes as well as desserts. I’m specifically going to talk about fresh ginger, which has a much stronger and pungent flavor. It packs a big kick in stir-fry dishes as well as directly garnishing or accompanying foods like dumplings (especially xiao long bao).
At the grocery store, you’ll find ginger in the produce section. Usually I find it on a refrigerated shelf near something like green onions, herbs, or peppers, though occasionally they might be off on their own near the garlic and onions. It might be a small bin but your average chain store should carry it.
Most grocery stores sell ginger by weight rather than per piece, and I’ve never needed more than 1-3 tablespoons in a single recipe. Don’t buy an entire piece straight off the shelf that is the size of your hand. Pick out a piece that doesn’t look dried out and is not super skinny. Find a chunk or branch that is 1-2 inches in diameter, then snap off a piece about 3 inches long. Let it snap naturally where it branches if it’s a little larger than I just described. Aim for about the size of a fun size Halloween Snickers or half a sausage/hot dog link to get 1-2 tablespoons of ginger.
Fresh ginger will dry out after a couple days, whether at room temp or in the refrigerator, so buy it within a day or two of when you plan to use it. If you’ve got too much or like to keep fresh ginger on hand, you can peel chunks of fresh ginger and then store it in a glass container submerged in a clear liquor like vodka or gin. I have just a couple pieces in a small container right now, but you could do a whole jar.
Keep this in the fridge for future use. The ginger will lose a little color but the flavor and texture will last. I’m not actually sure I’ve ever seen this go bad, so you can keep it for at least several months. I would recommend a fresh piece when using as a direct garnish, but haven’t noticed a loss in quality when you’re cooking with the preserved ginger. You can also use the ginger-infused alcohol later for cocktails if you’d like.
Peel ginger using a spoon. Just your average spoon, either a teaspoon or tablespoon that you can manuever around the piece of ginger (ideally not a serving or cooking spoon as they are a little large to handle). Turn the spoon so it is facing down against the garlic, then drag it across your ginger (either toward or away from you) in a similar motion as a regularvegetable peeler. The edge of the spoon is sharp enough to remove the skin, and is easier to control over the curves and knots than a vegetable peeler or knife. I find the spoon method a lot easier to control and less wasteful for getting around the edges and knobs of the ginger.
I completely forgot to get ginger at the grocery store to demo this live, so here’s a ginger peeling video how-to of this on YouTube from That Clean Life. Enjoy!