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Aug 25, 2009 12:33 PM


I am looking for an alternative to using root ginger in recipes as it makes me physically sick (realise weird as it is used to stop nausea!) Want to try thai/chinese/indian recipes but so many contain root ginger and wonder what I can use instead which will give me the same flavour. I am ok with powdered gingered but this seems mainly to be used in sweet recipes and I know tastes different and is from a different part of the plant (I think). Thanks

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  1. try the ginger juice from the Ginger People. it's a better substitute for fresh than the powder is.

    they have a store locator on their website, but pretty much all Whole Foods Markets carry it, and i've seen it at smaller specialty stores and places like Cost Plus World Market as well.

    1. Powdered ginger is just the root, dried, and ground.

      I can't think of any flavoring that would be closer to the fresh than the powdered. In Thai cooking they also use galangle (sp?), but that probably has similar effect as the fresh root. You could always omit the ginger. The stronger the chile bite, the less you'll notice the ginger bite (or lack thereof).

      1. paul is right about ground ginger simply being another form of the root. If, however, for whatever reason, you are able to tolerate ground ginger, that is just fine to use in savory recipes.

        Other than that, if you wish to substitute, I can't really think of a substitute for ginger, but there are certainly several other spices or condiments that could give you either the heat or bite of ginger, things that are used in the cuisines you mention. They would work fine in many of the dishes, but merely give you a somewhat different flavor profile.

        Some that I can think of quickly off the top of my head would be cinnamon--but, specifically, true cinnamon, like Saigon, which has a lot of heat; Chinese Five Spice; star anise; Thai red curry powder (hot, but I love the stuff); turmeric; chili oil, grains of paradise; ground cloves (I'd use less of this than I would ginger, since cloves' flavor is so distinct and could overwhelm the dish with its perfume, but JMO); Szechuan pepper.

        Again, I can't really think of anything that will replace the *taste* of ginger, but experimenting with some of these might help you recreate some of the other characteristics of ginger.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Normandie

          Just a correction: Saigon cinnamon is not "true" cinnamon, it is cassia; true cinnamon is often called Ceylon cinnamon. It is light and citrusy, not spicy like cassia (and particularly Saigon cinnamon).

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Yes, of course you're right, Caitlin. That's one of my (various) mental blocks; I always get it backwards. Fortunately, I mail-order my spices and always double-check the descriptions. ;-)

            In this case, I *did* mean to say Saigon cinnamon (yes, cassia), because it does have the heat. I use the Ceylon cinnamon sometimes for baking sweets. I'm not actually crazy about it, but for something more delicate, it doesn't overwhelm. For savory dishes, I always have a product from Viet Nam on hand.

            TY for fixing my mistake. :-)

          2. re: Normandie

            I don't think there are many recipes in these cuisines where ginger is the sole or dominant flavoring, especially savory ones. For a start it would simplest to just omit it, let the other spices do their job (the garlic, chile, etc). Obviously the quantities of the other spices could be adjusted if the result is too bland. But if you cannot compare a dish with ginger against the same without, it would be hard to duplicate the ginger taste.

            SE Asian groceries (and aisles) also sell ginger drink packets. This is sweet drink mix with a potent ginger taste. If you tolerate these as a drink, they could also be used to add a ginger bite to savory dishes, especially if they already have a sweet component (which is common in SE Asia).

          3. The closest replacement for the *taste* of ginger is Galangal. Same family, slightly different taste. You'll have to see if it make you nauseous though...

            1 Reply
            1. re: KiltedCook

              Galangal doesn't taste remotely like ginger. It's a rhizome, but that's the where the similarity ends IMO. Like trading parsley for coriander!

            2. Have you had pickled ginger, which is a typical condiment with sushi? If you have, and can tolerate it, it's readily available in Asian markets, and not hard to make (sugar and vinegar).