The fashion for so-called superfoods or superfood It is said that it began with the boom of quinoa and chia, but it also coincides somewhat in time with the emergence of turmeric in the West. Many healthy properties are attributed to it, although for me it is an essential spice due to its gastronomic qualities.
A while ago my partner Pakus He told us about the benefits of turmeric, highlighting above all its role as a powdered ingredient, essential in curries. Now that finally it is much easier to find fresh turmeric root in stores, I encourage you to try this fascinating spice in its natural form, with ideas for cooking with it and using it at home.
Turmeric in its natural state: rhizome or fresh root
That “powder” that is ground turmeric, already common among the selection of spices in any supermarket, is the one that adds yellow color to curry mixes and sauces most popular, although not all curries have to carry it.
But the dried spice is obtained from grinding the dried root of the plant Curcuma longa, a zingiberácea of the ginger family, originating from Southeast Asia. More than roots, we must speak of rhizomes, plant stems that grow underground and that they acquire a somewhat strange shape, with more or less intricate ramifications.
We are already familiar with the rhizome of fresh ginger -which conquered our kitchens many years ago-, although that of turmeric is more peculiar. They do not develop as much, being normally smaller, cylindrical parts, like “fingers” more or less thick. When several small units are piled up they almost resemble worms in the shape and appearance of the skin.
Turmeric at home: how to use and preserve it (and some precautions to handle it)
The ideal would be to be able to buy turmeric fresh in bulk, by units or by weight, but I am afraid that stores are still presenting it in closed trays with several units. Fortunately, it is a product that allows a long conservation at home.
We can keep the rhizomes in a cool, dry and dark place, away from heat sources, or inside the least cold part of the fridge, wrapping each piece in plastic wrap. It is necessary to ensure that it does not take in moisture so that it does not develop mold and that it is not affected by the odors of other foods.
Also can be frozen without problems, although when defrosted it will have a more pasty texture. It is advisable in this case to separate portions, previously washed and peeled, to be able to use the amount that we need to cook directly in the future.
Fresh turmeric can be consumed raw; Try a peeled portion to appreciate its full flavor. It is slightly bitter, with earthy aromas, of wood, slightly spicy but much milder than ginger. The skin is fine and suitable for consumption, but each portion of rhizome that we are going to use must always be washed and dried well.
If we are going to present the turmeric as it is on a plate, chopped or chopped, we can easily peel it with an ordinary peeling knife. And I advise preserve skin To use it in broths or infusions, as we would do with the remains of vegetables and vegetables so as not to waste anything in the kitchen.
Also, it can be used like ginger or garlic cloves. it’s possible grate it, chop it with a knife, crush it in a mortar, mash it with a food processor, cut it into sticks or press it in a garlic press, for example. It can be added in portions to soups, stews, creams, broths or hot drinks to infuse with it, or crushed into shakes and smoothies.
The flavor of natural turmeric is somewhat different from the dried and ground spice, much fresher, fragrant and complex. To substitute one ingredient for another, it is recommended to use double or a ratio of 1 to 3, that is, we need triple the volume of the root to equate its intensity to the dry spice – always considering that dry spices must also be ” fresh ”, as they lose aroma very quickly over time.
An important warning before you jump into experimenting with turmeric root: stain, and a lot; for something it is used as a coloring in the kitchen and in the food industry. If you do not want to have yellowish remains on your fingers -which will take time to disappear-, it is advisable to handle it with gloves.
Dishware and cutlery are easily cleaned of yellow stains after scrubbing, but could leave perennial remains on wooden or plastic planks, so it should be taken into account.
Ideas and recipes for using turmeric in the kitchen
In addition to using it in all the curry dishes that we want, as a substitute or as an addition to the powdered spice itself, there are many ways to take advantage of turmeric in the kitchen:
- Grated or chopped into casseroles, stews and soups, especially in spoon dishes with legumes with Asian touches, such as red lentil dahl.
- In the water or rice cooking broth, couscous, quinoa, pasta or any grain or cereal.
- Whole grated or cut into small sticks, as a garnish for stir-fries, salads or spoon dishes.
- Combined with yogurt to take with fruit and nuts.
- Crushed to give more flavor and color to omelettes, frittatas, and scrambled eggs.
- To give a special touch to sauces and dips like mayonnaise, hummus, baba ganush, or yogurt or cheese sauces.
- Enriching shakes and smoothies, crushing it directly with the mixer.
- Chopped or grated into dressings and vinaigrettes.
- Crushed to make a paste on its own or with fresh herbs, to flavor butter, that we can make homemade.
- In chutneys and jams with a more exotic touch.
- Also crushed or very finely grated, added to bread, biscuit, or cookie dough, both salty and sweet.
- As an ingredient in marinades and marinades of meat, fish, tofu or vegetables.
- On infusions, teas or to prepare golden milk or golden milk.
Have you tried the fresh turmeric? How do you use it at home?
Photos | iStock – Pixabay – Marco Verch – Kai Hendry