Several weeks ago, I was cooking a meal whose recipe called for “green ginger root.” This confused me– I had been cooking with ginger for years, but I had never heard of green ginger. I stood, scratching my head with a ripe ginger root in my hand, wondering, “What is green ginger?’
After a bit of research using the Cook’s Thesaurus, I discovered that green ginger root is ultimately the same thing as conventional ginger. The term “green ginger” does not refer to the rhizome’s color, but to its maturity. Green ginger root is less mature than the more popular forms of the rhizome. As a result, it is milder, less pungent and more tender.
Green ginger root is also called young ginger, spring ginger, new ginger, stem ginger, pink ginger or baby ginger. In recipes, it can be used as an alternative to riper forms of the plant if you don’t want your meal to have an overpoweringly spicy taste. In some cases, it is also an acceptable substitute for turmeric and galangal, two related plants.
If you need to find green ginger root, check out your local health food store, international grocer or Asian market. These tender rhizomes have pink tips, which are small stems growing from the plant’s young root. They are usually softer, shinier and less strong-smelling than ordinary ginger root.
If you can’t find green ginger root, it’s usually fine to use regular ginger instead. Depending on how strong you want your dish to be, you may wish to use green ginger root in lieu of ordinary ginger to curb the natural potency of this pungent rhizome. The two can be used interchangeably in many recipes.