Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Ginger Obsession

Reader, does it strike you as odd that I like ginger but I don't actually like eating them? Let me explain. I like the taste, which means I love lots of ginger in my stir-fried veggie, soups and stews, and in meat dishes when I ate them (I consciously avoid meat these days, but that's another long story). I don't, however, pick up the ginger slices and eat them. The only ones I'd have are those finely shredded and fried to crisps to top dishes with, or made into omelettes with Chinese wine. Those are absolutely yummy... That isn't so odd, is it? I know I shocked many, through the years, when I say I don't eat raw cucumber. Just the other day, I caused several pairs of eyes to go wide by declining mandarin oranges (which are like staple, during the Chinese new year season) because I don't eat them. Well, I've digressed. As usual.

Some weeks ago, I came across a little shop selling all sorts of dried and candied fruits. I picked up my favourite dried mangoes and then saw some candied ginger. I cannot remember having ever seen candied ginger, or tasted them before. The nice lady selling them gave me a little piece to sample, and... there was no turning back.

I bought a pack, and had to, literally, exercise tremendous amounts of self-control to not keep popping the slices into my mouth. Unfortunately, it was still gone in a couple of weeks. I went back to the shop, and they were sold out. I went back the following week, they were still out. The lady told me the factory making them were out of supply.

I wanted candied ginger and I must have them. Reader, do you know how it is to be obsessed? No, of course I don't, either. And no, I'm not in denial. *Ahem* Anyway, I wanted candied ginger and I must have them. I went to two supermarkets until I got my hands on a whole pound of fresh young ginger, googled "candied ginger" and copied the recipe from the first link in the results page. Did I mention I wanted candied ginger and I must have them?

The process was, in a gist, not so hard. Sure, cleaning and thinly slicing so much of ginger all at once was tedious. But hey, what are a climber's strong (relatively, that is) hands for when not currently climbing? The cooking took more than an hour, but that's just the stove and candy thermometer working... all I needed to do was run into the wet kitchen every 2 minutes to check on them. And no, I do not agree that that was a sign of being obsessed. *Ahem* It was kinda fun watching my (proving-itself-very-accurate) thermometer register 100 degrees Celsius the whole 45 minutes the water took to boil away.

Once done, I spread the drained slices on a baking tray and let them slowly dry over two days. Yea, where I live, it's pretty humid.

The cooked sugar crystallized so beautifully over the ginger slices it made me happy to just look at them. And yea, these taste great.

The author of the recipe wrote that people get scared when they hear of a recipe requiring a candy thermometer. I've used mine several times in such recipes, and seriously, having to use it isn't half as bad as cleaning the cooked sugar off it afterwards. Seriously. So, Reader, if you chance upon a recipe of something you really love, but which requires cooking sugar, just go ahead and do it.

Thank you, David Lebovitz!

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