Ginger and spring onion sauce | Fresh chilli sauce

On cooking shows, the chefs/cooks almost always cut enormous amounts of ginger off with the skin when preparing food! Even with old ginger this is completely unnecessary. Just scrape it off with the dull side of a knife or a spoon! I feel rage whenever I see this. Such a waste of good ginger…

I like ginger’s peppery bite and deep fragrance and but it’s the young form that I truly love. It’s delicious and very seasonal so you need to catch it when it’s around! Young ginger has been available since around November locally and the season should end soon. In Japanese restaurants, you’re often served pickled ginger aside sashimi. Sometimes it’s dyed a vivid pink colour which seems rather random but pickled ginger sometimes turns a blush shade of pink. I can only assume that the pink dye is to mimic this natural occurrence. What I don’t like about some pickled ginger I’ve eaten at restaurants is that they can taste muddy or earthy. I don’t know how that effect is achieved but it really ruins the clean ginger taste.

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So how can you tell if the ginger is young? Normal ginger has the usual beige-brown skin that coats this rhizome. Young ginger doesn’t have this thicker skin; instead it’s tissue paper-thin and pale yellow with some pink flushes. Here’s a photo I took this week when I was in Chinatown. The young kind isn’t fibrous but tender and tastes sweetly mild with almost floral overtones. If you find ordinary ginger always has too much swagger, then maybe you’d prefer the young variety. As a bonus, this kind of underage is totally legal!

I’ll be posting soon a recipe on how to pickle your own young ginger. It goes great with so many things and will be a revelation. (Yeah, slight oversell.) I haven’t ever noticed young ginger at the massive supermarket chains so you’ll probably need to seek out a greengrocer, an Asian supermarket or local farmers market to source it.

The below sauces can be made with young or old ginger. Quite strong, they’re best on the side so people can add it/dip to their own taste.

Serving both aside some delicate white poached chicken with steamed rice and some simply cooked green leafy vegetables is probably one of my favourite comfort meals. It just tastes like home.

Ginger and spring onion sauce

This isn’t a runny sauce but more like an accompaniment. It takes about 10 minutes to make in total.

  1. Finely grate a piece of ginger the size of your thumb and place into a small, shallow bowl. If using normal ginger, you may find the fibres clog up the grater. No need to be concerned. Just scrape it off and add it to the rest and continue until it’s all grated.
  2. Finely slice a large stalk of spring/green onion (green parts and all) using a large knife or cleaver. Then continue to use the knife and chop until very finely minced. Add this to the ginger.
  3. Mix in a quarter teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of a neutral vegetable oil (I would use: sunflower, safflower, peanut, rice bran or canola oil) and stir with a small spoon. The oil will mingle with any ginger juices and you’ll see the ginger soak up some of the oil. There should seem to be a fairly even mix between ginger and spring onion.
  4. Taste it. It needs to be a little saltier than you think as it’s a seasoning condiment and you won’t be eating it alone. There’ll be some oil floating around the edges so this is normal.

SERVINGS: About 2-4, depending on how much you like to eat. Make a batch and use your own judgement. This keeps well in the fridge for up to a week if you keep it covered and airtight.

Fresh chilli sauce

This fresh chilli sauce keeps brilliantly and if you are sick of sweet or tart styles of chilli sauce and want something really fiery and fresh tasting, this is it. I mix it into pasta sauces, dollop some into salad dressings or marinades and just keep a jar on hand at all times.

  1. Whizz up in a food processor one heaped cup of birds eye chillis with a 2cm piece of ginger, half a teaspoon of salt, 1-2 garlic cloves and a tablespoon or so of white vinegar. You don’t want it chunky but it shouldn’t be completely smooth. Use the vinegar to help adjust the texture/thickness.
  2. Give the sauce a quick taste and add a little more salt if you want or half a teaspoon of sugar if you’d prefer to round out the taste and soften the spiciness slightly.

SERVINGS: Many! It keeps for several weeks in a tightly sealed glass jar in the fridge.

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