Because it just doesn’t sound right.
But it seems to work.
Ginger. No matter how expensive it might seem to be when you only look at the listed price on the grocer shelf, it ends up costing a mere pittance, because the 2-3 inch hunk you pick up doesn’t way a thing. Might be $10/lb, but when you get a couple of ounces, it’s almost free.
But then you get home and start peeling off the skin so that you mince the tender flesh, and you realize that you only have about half of what you thought you bought available for the dish.
I stumbled onto this the other day … well, no, not stumbled, since it was on the top of my Google Reader for the day … anyway, Molly at Orangette cites breakfast and baking guru Marion Cunningham’s technique for mincing ginger for her wonderful ginger muffins.
As Molly puts it, “It starts with a knob of fresh ginger root with the skin on, a perplexing and maybe even off-putting detail that, it turns out, works very well.”
Off-putting, to say the least. Ginger is a root. Roots grow in the ground. The ground is made up of 87% dirt. And Mom is always telling you to clean the dirt out from under your fingernails, from your elbows, behind your ears, you name it. By the transitive property of Mom’s Commandments, she wants you to clean the dirt off of your ginger knob. Which is hard to do, because the skin of a ginger knob resembles the knee cap of an elderly elephant. So what do we do? We peel. We whittle away nearly everything until we’re left with golden pulp that hardly resembles the hunk of bark we threw in our shopping bag.
According to Marion, instead of peeling away about half of your knob in an effort to expose just the flesh, you simple chop the ginger into half-inch squares and plunk it into your food processor. (If you had peeled it and then chucked it into the processor, it would have merely thudded, but with skin, you get a hearty plunk.)
This is where Molly loses me. She says that this ginger bark helps keep the food processor from obliterating the ginger flesh into paste, resulting in a granular product. I did it, I saw it with my own eyes, but I’m not convinced of the physics here. There are non-negotiable relationships between the surface area and volume of any solid, and I can’t wrap my Pooh-sized brain around how keeping an extra 2rLπ + 2πr-squared worth of skin can make Lπr-squared worth of ginger meat into a uniform grain. Oh bother. Forget the math and physics. It just works. Even if one is to chicken out and cut a good portion of the skin off of the ginger, because one is intimidated by the nooks and crannies in the ginger bark and is afraid he can’t quite get it clean enough with just water, a brush, and elbow grease.
Now that you have your granulated ginger, what to do, what to do? How about …
Marion Cunningham’s Fresh Ginger Muffins
Adapted from The Breakfast Book
One 3 inch piece of ginger root, washed über-thoroughly, skin-intact
¾ cup sugar, plus 3 Tbs for later
2 Tbs grated lemon zest
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour (all all-purpose, or 1 cup a-p + 1 cup white whole wheat)
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking soda
Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a muffin tin.
Cut the unpeeled ginger root into several chunks. In a food processor, pulse the ginger until it looks like golden sand. Measure out about a quarter cup. (The rest will keep for several days in a small tupperware.) Add a quarter cup of sugar to the ginger in a small sauce pan and melt over medium heat, stirring frequently, until you have a granular sauce. Remove it from the heat.
In a medium bowl, give the butter a few stirs with a sturdy spatula, and then add ½ cup sugar. Beat with a hand-mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and then the buttermilk and continue beating. Slowly mix in the the flour, salt, and baking soda, and beat just until smooth. Add the ginger-lemon mixture, and beat for a few more seconds. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm.
Quit Eating Out’s Korean-Style Stir-Fry, plus or minus a few things
Spaghetti or udon noodles
1 Tbs grated ginger (as described above)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup tamari
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
3 Tbs agave syrup (or honey)
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs Sriracha hot sauce
1-2 Tbs olive oil
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into small strips
1 cup stir fry veggies: cabbage, red pepper strips, onions, etc
Cook the noodles according to their directions.
In a food processor, pulse the ginger, garlic, tamari, sesame oil, agave, vinegar, tomato paste, olive oil, and Sriracha, with about half a cup of the hot water from the pasta, until it’s a smooth paste.
In a large skillet, heat a few Tbs of olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes until browned on all sides. Then add the veggies in batches (longer cooking veggies like onions first, cabbage last). Add about half the ginger sauce and stir until coated. Then add the noodle and stir gently again. Serve with additional ginger sauce and a few shakes of sesame seeds.