9/2/11

Ginger

So Mini Preefer gave the corrected Korean Tofu Cutlets a try. "Huh! That's a really nice taste of ginger!" Kiddo has a pretty good palate, apparently. I'm glad he noticed, because we had to increase the ginger by four times, notice that it was still too weak, then double that amount! Why?

Ginger is a finicky little rhizome. When it's bought fresh fresh fresh, it tastes strong and pungent, and gives this delightful spicy kick. The smell of grating ginger is refreshing. It clears the palate really well, as well as adds its own contribution to the eating experience. In short, it's a cool little plant.

However, if you let ginger sit around, and get lazy, its tastes get lazy too. Ginger begs to be used immediately. However, when it's cooked, the whole ballgame changes. The sharp pungency starts to mellow out extremely fast. When cooked, ginger becomes very tame, very quickly. For that reason, when I cook, I tend to add it towards the end of the cooking process, rather than along with the garlic and onions. If I specifically want a milder taste, I add it towards the beginning. Just knowing these little tricks can make it so much easier for you to incorporate ginger root into your cooking.

This is why when you're throwing a knob of ginger into your juicer, a very little goes a long way, whereas when you toss some in with your stir-fry (or, in our case, our BBQ Seitan, or Korean Tofu Cutlets) at the beginning of cooking, the taste is rather mild, and works more in the background than in the forefront.

It's the same like with garlic. When you chop up garlic very finely, and cook it for a long time, its sweeter notes come to the fore, and the garlicky taste sort of fades into the background flavours, and everything just tastes fantastic, but you can't quite tell why.

I mentioned all that to say this: the Korean Tofu Cutlets are roasted in the oven for a looong spell. During that cooking, the sugars caramelise, the chiles intensify, and the ginger gets more and more quiet. In the recipe we were using, the ginger was barely making any sound. You couldn't taste it in front of the rest of the stuff.

Here's your helpful hint. For long-cooking dishes, double the amount of ginger you think you'll need, then double it again.
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