Ah ginger, my favorite wonder food. Add a little to honey and lemon tea to help fight a cold. Use it to spice up a stir fry. Make the most amazing gingerbread by including some grated fresh ginger in the batter. Or if you happen to have a lot of ginger to use up, you can candy it. Here’s a little tip that you may or may not know about ginger: it is very helpful for nausea. It is the only thing (and believe me, I’ve tried everything) that helps me with sea sickness. Pregnant women I have known swear by it. The root itself is rather gnarly, and can be a little bit challenging to peel and cut, so I’ve put together a quick how-to, starting with a short video of my preferred way to peel ginger, with a spoon!
Do you need to peel ginger? Not really, but you may want to for aesthetic reasons. I like peeling ginger with the edge of a spoon. Young ginger has such thin skin, you don't need to peel it at all. Older ginger, like what we typically find in the grocery store, has more papery skin that you may want to peel. If your ginger has been hanging around for a while and is a little shriveled, it won't peel easily with a spoon. You'll need a paring knife to cut away the peel.
- One firm, fresh piece of ginger root
Peeling Ginger with a Spoon
Hold a piece of ginger root firmly in one hand and the bowl of a metal spoon firmly in the other hand. (Note that you can also just break a lobe off of the ginger and peel only that.) Scrape the edge of the spoon against the ginger to peel off the skin. Work your way around the ginger root, peeling only as much as you think you will use. (The ginger will last longer if it is stored with the peel on.)
Slicing and Cutting Ginger in Matchsticks (Julienne)
1 Ginger is quite fibrous. The fibers are in the direction of the root of the ginger and its lobes. Slice the peeled area of the ginger root, across the grain of the fibers, into coins. (Use the coins to make candied ginger!)
2 If your recipe calls for slivers of ginger or julienned ginger, stack two or three "coins" of the ginger at a time and cut them into matchsticks.
Chopping or Mincing Ginger
If your recipe calls for chopped or minced ginger, line up the ginger matchsticks cut in the previous step and make crosswise cuts.
The easiest way to grate ginger is to keep a knob of ginger wrapped in plastic in your freezer. When you need some grated ginger, pull it out of the freezer, scrape away the peel (if you want, it's not really necessary) of the area you want to grate, and grate the ginger with a microplane grater. Like we do when we slice ginger, grate across the grain of the fibers of the ginger.