Ginger, the rhizome, or underground stem, of a semitropical plant, yields a strong-flavored spice. Whole rhizomes, commonly called roots, may be purchased fresh. They have a lively, hot flavor and peppery aroma. Select fresh ginger that is firm, not shriveled. Wrap in a paper towel and refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks. Ground, dried ginger, which is more subtle and sweet in flavor, is sold in jars or tins; store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Pieces of ginger preserved in syrup are popular in sweet Asian dishes. Fresh ginger is peeled before using in recipes.
To peel fresh ginger:
Remove the brown, papery skin with a small paring knife or vegetable peeler.
To chop fresh ginger: After peeling, chop ginger with a chef's knife or process in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.
To grate fresh ginger: After peeling, draw ginger across the fine holes of a metal grater or shredder, or across a bamboo or porcelain ginger grater.For other spices, see allspice, aniseeds, caraway, cardamom, cayenne pepper, chili powder, Chinese five-spice powder, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, curry powder, fennel seeds, garam masala, juniper berries, mace, nutmeg, paprika, pepper, peppercorns, saffron, Sichuan pepper, star anise, sumac, and turmeric.