The rainy season triggers new growth in many plants that have survived a really hot and dry summer. In the past few weeks, fresh young ginger has been making it to the local markets and I got some for myself today. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) as it is photographed here is actually the rhizome of the ginger plant. It is an extremely important spice worldwide but is generally used in two forms â€“ fresh in most southeast Asian cooking and dried in most western style cooking. India is one of the largest producers of ginger (more than half of the worldâ€™s entire crop) but it does grow in many other regions and countries around the globe.
I have been curious about the young ginger in the markets and wondered if there was really a huge difference in flavor. It seems that it is perfect for steamed dishes, particularly a steamed lapu-lapu (grouper) or other fish that has a light soya sauce, ginger and perhaps coriander treatment. I always wondered why the ginger in restaurants didnâ€™t seem as fibrous or woody as the ginger I usually have at home and this is the answerâ€¦ use young finger and julienne them into fine stripsâ€¦superb for steamed dishes, almost sweet, in fact.
Another use for the young ginger is pickling. It goes great in atchara and I suspect would be perfect for those picked ginger slices that they serve with sushi in Japanese restaurants. The normal ginger used by the Japanese is Zingiber mioga or Japanese ginger and that is the original base ingredient for the pickles. The flavor of the young local ginger is totally noticeable but less sharp than usual. The ginger is juicier and aromatic, not tough and fibrous. At PHP20 for this small bunch, I thought it was reasonably priced. It does spoil quickly however. In Thailand, they make a ginger tea with young gingerâ€¦ I wonder if our own salabat (ginger tea) would taste any smoother using this young gingerâ€¦