Recipe: Chicken Soba Noodle Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing

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JOHNNY MILLER

We often think of ginger as an Asian ingredient, but it’s found in almost every cuisine around the world. You might find it in German Pfeffernusse cookies, Australian marmalades, Moroccan tagines or American cranberry relish. Spices like ginger impart a hot, pungent flavor to sweet and savory dishes and beverages in a wide range of global cuisines.

In Chinese cuisine, ginger is julienned, minced or mashed and added to vegetable, fish and meat dishes. In Japanese dishes, it is shredded, shredded, or pickled, then served in thin slices with sushi. Indian chefs favor it in curries and rice dishes.

Ground ginger gives a spicy note to cookies (ginger snaps), preserves, quick breads (gingerbread) and drinks (ginger ale). This is of course part of the spice mix we love – pumpkin pie spice.

Ginger does more than improve taste, it’s also good for you. Traditionally, it has been used to relieve digestive problems or nausea, including motion sickness.

Fresh ginger or ginger root, as it is often called, is not a root but the rhizome, or underground stem, of a plant from the same family as turmeric and cardamom.

When buying fresh ginger, look for a heavy piece with smooth brown skin without wrinkles or mold. Fresh ginger is tough and breaks clean in a snap. If you see pieces with fibers coming out when broken, it’s an old piece.

It should keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks wrapped in a paper towel. It can also be wrapped in foil and stored in the freezer for 1-2 months. It will lose its crispness but can still be used to enhance the flavor of dishes.

If I have too much ginger on hand, I often grate it, add enough water to make a paste, and freeze it in an ice cube tray. I can then easily add it to stir fries or other dishes.

To prepare the ginger, scrape off the brown skin with a spoon (or leave it on), then chop, slice or puree the flesh using a Microplane grater, or even crush it in a garlic press.

This recipe is adapted from “Once Upon a Chef: Weeknight/Weekend”, by Jennifer Segal. Clarkson Potter/Editors ($32.50).

A light to medium-bodied dry or off-dry white wine is usually a good choice with Asian cuisine. Psagot Viognier (vee-oh-NYAY) 2019 ($27.99) from Israel with its floral notes of anise, apricot, honey and lemon offers a nice contrast to the sharpness of ginger and the salty flavors and sweetness of the dish.

Segal advises, “Note that the dressing will taste sour and salty before you mix it with the noodles – because the noodles will absorb the flavor quickly, you need to over-season the dressing slightly. Feel free to make the dressing ahead of time, but cook and dress the noodles at the last minute so they don’t get soggy.

A version of this story originally published in the Miami Herald.

This story was originally published August 1, 2022 12:53 p.m.

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