Ginger is the base for this really aromatic chai tea. Hot, spicy and astringent, it adds a great deal of flavor to every beverage or dish, and the root can keep for weeks chilled in your vegetable drawer. Add it to scallions and garlic to make a flavorful base for any Asian dish, including stir-fries, soups and noodle dishes. Grate it into blended canned tomatoes for a gorgeous sauce to serve with chicken or fish.
Although you can find ginger almost anywhere -- from your local deli to the fanciest gourmet food shops -- there are a few things you should always look for. Make sure you pick a root with a firm, smooth skin without wrinkles or withered ends. The flesh inside should be crisp and lemony yellow, without any browning. To peel it, you can use a potato peeler or the edge of a spoon, but for this chai recipe there's no need to peel at all, since you'll strain the mixture before serving it.
Ginger is not only delicious, but well-known as a folk remedy against motion sickness (especially seasickness) when consumed raw. In addition, ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that can help lessen the pain of arthritis and also has anti-bacterial properties that make it a good match for raw foods, like sushi.
Warm Vanilla Chai
2 inch pieces of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the ginger, tea and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce immediately to a simmer. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until the water decreases by half. Add the milk, sugar, and vanilla. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain and serve immediately.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 cup):
125 calories, 6 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 3 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 98 mg sodium.