Ginger has been appreciated for about a bazillion years – and for good reason.
The Mahabharata is an epic poem, written in Sanskrit between the 8th and 9th centuries. It is believed to be the longest ever written. No, there won’t be a test on this – what was interesting to me is the description within the text of a meal involving meat stewed with ginger.
Often, fresh foods with splendid taste have ancillary health benefits. In this case, this rhizome is bursting with health boosting attributes. From whfoods.com:
In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
I vividly recall my first sushi bar experience. As my delicate slices of tuna, salmon and yellowtail arrived, so did too a generous portion of gari, thin slices of young ginger that has been pickled in a sugar and vinegar solution (note: the real stuff isn’t bright pink). At first sample, it is sweet, spicy and refreshing. A true palate cleanser, gari is served by sushi chefs to be consumed between courses and after the meal. It was originally paired with seafood to counter the effects of potentially bad fish.
The capability to settle the stomach is but one of the numerous medicinal benefits associated with this wonder. From the University of Maryland Medical Center:
Today, health care professionals may recommend ginger to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting from motion sickness, pregnancy, and cancer chemotherapy. It is also used to treat mild stomach upset, to reduce pain of osteoarthritis, and may even be used in heart disease.
I’m all for attempting to treat medical issues with food, but, more importantly, you know how I appreciate pungent flavors and textures. Ginger checks all my essential boxes. Whenever I venture out to eat Thai or Indian food or prepare curries and stir-fries at home, I can’t add enough of the stuff. Since my experience with gari at the sushi bar, I’ve graduated from eating the pickled ginger to eating it raw and unchanged from its original form. Much like my relationship with coffee, this spice shines even without accompaniment.
I wrote about the nutritional value of consuming a rainbow of color whenever possible. Try my new favorite curry recipe and tell me the bright yellow ginger doesn’t leave its mark.
Vegetable and shrimp curry, Thai style
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
- 3 medium shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cups shitake mushrooms
- 2 cups multi colored bell peppers, sliced
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 cup snow peas in pod
- 2 cups broccoli
- 1 cup fresh coriander
- 3/4 pound shrimp
- 2 cans coconut milk
- Turmeric to taste
- Curry powder to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in large saucepan at medium. Add ginger and shallots, sauté until golden brown.
- Add vegetables; turn heat to medium/high and stir-fry for 7-8 minutes, until tender.
- While the veggies are cooking, pour coconut milk into a large bowl and add turmeric and curry powder. You’re looking for a medium to bright yellow color.
- Stir the mixture well and pour over the vegetables.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer over medium/low heat for 9-10 minutes.
- Add shrimp and coriander and cook for 3-4 minutes until shrimp are tender and cooked through.
Serve over rice or quinoa.
Phelidphelin (“Bon Appétit” in Thai),