Go-To Goodness: Ginger

I have a tendency to fixate on things. I do it in life; I do it with food. My current obsession is ginger. As recently as a few years ago, my knowledge of this aromatic, slightly spicy substance was pretty much restricted to ginger ale, which I only drank when I had an upset stomach.

Now, I'm all about the stuff. I use it in anything I can think of. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't. We won't talk about the ill-fated ginger-cheese incident. And I'm addicted to ginger beer (which is okay, since despite its name, contains zero alcohol). FYI: Ginger beer is not the same thing as ginger ale; it's got a lot more ginger taste.

Ginger has some proven and potent health benefits too. It's packed with antioxidants and has long been prized in herbal medicine for its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to calm nausea (why your mom gave you ginger ale when you felt icky as a kid).

My favorite way to enjoy ginger at the moment is ginger-sesame dressing. My version is modified a bit from this recipe on Seeded at the Table. Remember, you don't have to be a chef to fool around with recipes. Most have a few basic ingredients that need to be there, but feel free to adjust the heat and spice level along with other flavorings to your liking. I'll give you the recipe and then a few ways to use it (other than drinking it straight from the bottle).

Ginger-Sesame Dressing

  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed 
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp sesame seeds

Put all ingredients in a jar. (I used a Weck juice jar for this.) Shake to combine and keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Everybody in the jar! We're about to shake things up.

Everybody in the jar! We're about to shake things up.

This is what it looks like after all the shaking. Before all the shaking, please remember to make sure your top or lid is on good and tight, and no, that is not sesame-ginger dressing on my ceiling. But thanks for asking.

This is what it looks like after all the shaking. Before all the shaking, please remember to make sure your top or lid is on good and tight, and no, that is not sesame-ginger dressing on my ceiling. But thanks for asking.

Asian Chicken Salad (serves two for dinner)

This is just one of a gazillion tasty ways to use up this dressing.

  • Three scallions, thinly sliced

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, shredded

  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots  

  • 2 tablespoons hot or sweet pepper, finely diced

  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

  • half a small head of Napa cabbage chopped fine

  • 2 cups butter or romaine lettuce (optional) 

  • 1/2 cup Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Mix everything except the lettuce and let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Serve over a bed of lettuce doused in additional dressing if desired.