Photo: Claire Lower
I don’t think I have ever encountered a form of ginger I didn’t enjoy. Candied ginger, pickled ginger, fresh ginger—all ginger is good ginger. (I’m also a fan of gingers, but that’s not what this is about.) I lean hard on pickled ginger most of the time—particularly in dressings and drinks—but cold weather calls for a sweeter, warmer type of ginger root. Cold weather call for air-fried ginger.
Of course, it’s “not really fried,” but more “turbo-roasted.” (“The Turbo Roaster” would have been a more accurate name for the air fryer, I think, but what’s done is done.) Semantics aside, air-fried ginger is a delight for most, if not all of your senses. It has a caramelized, lightly candied quality, and is so soft you can tear it apart with your hands. It’s slightly less smoky than broiler-roasted ginger (which is how Bon App roasts theirs), but the real difference lies in your energy bill.
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Instead of broiling a single chunk of ginger root in a large oven for 45 minutes to an hour, you can toss it, unpeeled, in a 400-degree air fryer basket for approximately 30 minutes. I say “approximately” because I let the ginger hang out in the basket while it preheats—which adds around three minutes to the overall time.
The ginger that comes out is soft, fragrant, and encased in a crinkly, blistered skin. The flavor is softer, quieter, and warmer, and the unpeeled, roasted root can be blended into sauces, dressings, smoothies, and cocktails. Last night I blended a two-inch piece of roasted ginger with some sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a little sugar to make a dipping sauce for some poached chicken. It was great, but I’ll probably use a neutral-tasting oil next time, as the toastiness of the sesame oil obscured the ginger’s more nuanced qualities, which are too beautiful to cover up.
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So, to recap: All you have to do to avail yourself of tender, deeply sweet ginger is place a washed, unpeeled piece of the root in the basket of your air fryer, set the temperature to 400℉ and the time to 30 minutes, then walk away and let the air fryer do its thing, returning once to flip it over somewhere in near the middle. Remove from the air fryer, blend it into things, and repeat as neede
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