Yields ¾ cup
The combination of ginger's sharp bite and sweet sugar is incomparable. Enjoy alone, or use to enliven salads and desserts such as Szechwan Peppered Fruit (page 277).
6 ounces fresh ginger
1½ cups water
1¾ cups sugar
Soak the ginger overnight and drain. Peel the ginger, removing any knobs, and cut into chunks.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the ginger and simmer for about 1½ hours. Drain. Repeat again, simmering until the ginger is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain well.
Bring 1½ cups water combined with 1½ cups sugar to a boil, stirring. When the sugar and water have formed a thick syrup, reduce the heat and add the ginger. Simmer until the water is nearly absorbed and the hardened sugar coats the ginger. Remove and roll the ginger in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Cool and store in an air-tight container.
Queen Elizabeth may have invented the gingerbread man, but Chinese cooks have been putting ginger's subtle flavor to use since ancient times. Fresh ginger is featured in soups, salads, stews, and stir-fries; it is also used to flavor oil and remove fishy odors. And nothing beats a comforting cup of ginger tea when you're feeling run-down.