Top 10 Tips: Add some South East Asian flare to your food with warming ginger

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This fragrant root is perfect in curries, with chocolate and in soothing tea...

Ginger
It's one of the most crucial ingredients in South East Asian cooking, but would many of us really know what to do if we were presented with a massive chunk of ginger and asked to prepare it?

To celebrate Thai New Year (13 -15 April), Very Lazy's head chef Rob Cottam has put together his top ten tips for infusing your meals with spicy warming ginger. He's also supplied us with this foolproof Thai green curry recipe to get your creative juices flowing.

Rob Cottam's Top Ginger Tips

1. A dish can be totally transformed by using grated ginger rather than larger chunks or vice versa. So follow the recipe instructions carefully.

2. In a similar way to garlic and onion, ginger has a softer taste when it's cooked and softened. To get more kick from your ginger you can add it right at the end of cooking just before serving or if you want it to be more mellow add it at the very start.

3. For a dish with a difference use ginger instead of black pepper or chilli, it will give you heat but in a warming rather than spicy way.

4. Ginger and galangal are interchangeable in recipes, so if you can't get your hands on galangal try adding two thirds the amount of ginger (often normal ginger is a little harsher than galangal).

5. Fresh ginger should be firm, almost hard, with unwrinkled skin and a strong smell. If you do have the time to peel your own ginger (rather than using the pre-chopped ginger), use a teaspoon to scrape the outer skin, as you will have far less wastage. If you want to store fresh ginger, remove the skin, wrap in cling film and put it in the freezer. Next time you want to use some take it out the freezer and grate some off the end. Simple.

6. For a great stir fry base flavour infuse 250ml of rapeseed or sunflower oil with 2-3 tablespoons of pre-chopped ginger. Combine in a sauce pan and heat on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes (do ensure that it does not get too hot or start smoking as it will taste awful and there is a risk of catching fire!)

7. Ginger and chocolate are a match made in heaven... try adding some grated or puréed ginger to anything from brownies and cookies to puddings and soufflés.

8. Add a little puréed ginger into butter-cream for an alternative to lemon in baking. It also works well in Christmas pudding, trifle and fresh fruit salads.

9. Add half a teaspoon of puréed ginger into a glass of lemonade or add a few chunks into a glass of boiling water to settle an upset stomach or relieve nausea.

10. Add ginger into your apple pie instead of cinnamon for a refreshing twist.

What are your favourite ginger infused recipes?

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