Any time you’re about to make a stir fry or curry, indian food or the like, start here.

These three ingredients have a permanent and integral role in my kitchen, and for good reason: they make food delicious.

Fresh garlic (much more flavorful than pre-diced or powder)

Fresh ginger (so good!)

Leek (because I won’t go near onion and everyone can agree leek tastes delicious)

IMG 1096 300x244   Garlic, Ginger, Leek: The Trifecta of Awesomeness
Trifecta of awesomeness: Garlic, Ginger, Leek

Need more convincing?

Garlic has many health properties, but here’s something you might not have known (I didn’t, until just now):

Don’t throw your chopped garlic directly into the pan immediately after dicing! Allowing the crushed or chopped garlic to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, you will maximize the health benefits.  This triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.

  • Garlic is a powerful antibiotic and is effective against toxic bacteria, viruses, and fungus.
  • Garlic is good for your heart: lowering blood pressure and decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Garlic has antioxidant properties
  • Garlic promotes bile production to help reduce levels of fat in the liver.
  • Garlic helps ward off coughs and colds.
  • Garlic has high cancer-prevention properties. Meat cooked until blackened can produce carcinogenic (cancer producing) chemicals and research has recently discovered that when meat is cooked with garlic this effect is limited.
  • Garlic is a decongestant and expectorant. It is a surprisingly good source of vitamins C, B6 and the minerals selenium and manganese

.. I could go on.  But on to GINGER

 

Ginger

When buying fresh ginger, seek out heavy pieces with a plump, smooth, somewhat shiny skin.  Wrinkled or cracked skin indicates that the ginger is drying and past its prime.

Storing ginger: Fresh ginger will get moldy fairly quickly in the refrigerator. You can wrap it (unpeeled) in a paper towel, put it in a plastic bag, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Or store it at room temperature like you would potatoes.  You can even eat the buds that sprout off fresh ginger (I haven’t tried this..).  You can also freeze your ginger though some people think that changes the flavor.  I frequently buy ginger in bulk and freeze it in meal-sized portions.  One suggestion is to store your ginger in dry sherry or Madeira wine in the fridge.  It will last up to 3 months this way and the little flavor you lose will be gained when you realize you have ginger-flavored wine to use in stir fries, salad dressings, and sauces…

  • Ginger’s carminative effect that helps break up and expel intestinal gas makes it a remedy for nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and general stomach upset.
  • Ginger helps stimulate digestion and circulation
  • Ginger has been shown to help prevent certain forms of cancer
  • Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller.

 

Leek

How to buy leeks: the younger the leek, the more tender the flavor.  Select leeks with a clean white slender bulb, at least two to three inches of white, and firm, tightly-rolled dark green tops. The base should be at least 1/2 inch in diameter, although most are much larger, usually 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches. If the bottom of the leek is slightly bulbous, it is too mature.

Store leeks wrapped in plastic in your refrigerator, as the aroma they exude can be absorbed by other items in your fridge.  They will last anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks.

Leeks can be substituted for onions in most dishes.

To cook leeks, slice off the root and use the tender white portion.  The darker green the portion of leek, the tougher it will be.  You can however peel off outer layers as you get towards the stalk and find light green portions of leek suitable to use.  Some people use the whole stalk though in those cases it’s best to use it to flavor a broth, but remove it before eating.

  • Leeks are a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.
  • Leeks are easier to digest than onions, and have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.
  • Leeks have been shown to have some anti-cancer properties