After a brisk walk down to the bay on frosty winter day, I crave foods to warm me up from the inside out. There’s no better way to raise your internal temperature to medium-cozy than to fire up a dish with this quick make-ahead garlic-ginger paste.
I learned about it reading an interview with chef, restaurateur, and spice-master Meherwan Irani. Starting with a restaurant in Asheville, N.C., he has created an award-winning career redefining the ways foods from India are understood in the U.S.
The formula for the paste is simple. To the bowl of a food processor add a cup of peeled, coarsely chopped ginger, a cup of peeled garlic cloves, and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Mix up a quarter cup of liquid: equal parts white vinegar (or lime or lemon juice) and water. With the processor running, add the liquid just until the paste is smooth. A jar keeps in the fridge for a few weeks and can be frozen for several months (ice cube trays make a convenient portion size).
The paste can go in very different directions. To warm up a vegetable-centric dinner, caramelize a couple of tablespoons in a hot skillet, then toss in some chopped onion with a little ground turmeric, cumin, and chili powder. Add cut vegetables and tofu (or chicken or shrimp). For a roasted chicken, rub the whole bird with the paste and roast as usual.
I also stir the garlic-ginger paste into a quick stir fry sauce: Mix 2 tablespoons of the paste, 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce plus 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine (you can substitute dry sherry), 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 2 tablespoons sugar, and ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper. Warm all ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Store in the fridge for 4 days or freeze.