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Ginger Is The Spice Of Life

By Ali Resich Photos By BODIE COLLINS
November 29, 2015

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GOING INSIDE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE The earliest forms of gingerbread may date back to ancient Greece, but it was the Germans who first put gingerbread houses together in the 1500s, laying the foundation for the Brothers Grimm’s tale Hansel and Gretel.

Happy Sunday, Ono readers! I hope you’re still feeling full hearted — and full bellied — after a glorious Thanksgiving meal. I know I am, and if you’re anything like me, you also might be ready for some healthy and rejuvenating dishes to bring a little balance to a holiday season filled with indulgences, leftovers and continuous feasting.

As one of the healthiest roots around, nutrient-rich ginger is good for us in so many ways. We all know it aids digestion and calms nausea, but were you aware that it contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties as well?

Health talk aside, what’s really captivating about ginger is its instantly recognizable spiced flavor that blends well with other seasonings, yet also can stand up on its own. I love that it can be used in both sweet and savory creations, and I’ll surely be eating my fair share of gingerbread cookies next month. But right now, what I’m after are succulent lunch and dinner selections that put ginger front and center, and leave me feeling satisfied and rejuvenated.

GOLDEN PALACE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

In Chinese cuisine, ginger is a widely used ingredient, as it was first cultivated in ancient China and heralded for its medicinal uses. Fast forward to today, and you can find a slew of authentic ginger-accented menu items at Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown.

“I would say in nine out of 10 (Chinese) dishes, you’re going to see ginger show up, be it in the seasoning or just the prepping,” says restaurant manager Gary Lam. “It’s not very often a main ingredient; it’s more like a condiment or side ingredient.”

Ginger & Onion Oyster Sizzling Platter ($11.95)

Ginger & Onion Oyster Sizzling Platter ($11.95)

When it comes to Ginger and Onion Oyster Sizzling Platter ($11.95), however, ginger plays a crucial role. The spice simultaneously softens any fishiness from the oysters, while absorbing all of the juices and flavors from the rich sauce and other ingredients.

Large, impactful slices of ginger bedazzle the dish, which is cooked with green onion, minced garlic and whole oysters that are lightly fried beforehand.

“The ginger brings this nice aroma, especially with the sizzling platter. It also brings its own slightly tangy taste to the dish,” adds Lam.

While stopping in to try this traditional selection, be sure to ask Lam about Golden Palace’s catering services. The restaurant offers everything from dim sum to party platters for any upcoming holiday event.

Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant
111 N. King St., Chinatown

521-8268

ICHIRIKI JAPANESE NABE RESTAURANT

After this past week’s heavy downpours and cool evenings, there couldn’t be a better time to warm up over a pot of simmering ginger broth at Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant.

One of the best ways to enjoy ginger broth is in the December Special, Niku Nabe ($17.95), which will be available during happy hour (early bird: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; late night: 9 p.m. to closing).

Niku Nabe ($17.95; December happy hour special)

Niku Nabe ($17.95; December happy hour special)

Seeing as niku translates to meat, the special lives up to its name as a carnivore’s dream dish packed with ribeye, pork, chicken and tsukune (ground pork and chicken meatball).

While diners may choose any broth to go with this special, I’m partial to the ginger variety because it’s light, clean and focused in its use of fresh ginger, yet the broth maintains depth from its fish-and chicken-based soup stock. And as a mound of vegetables, kuzukiri glass noodles, shrimp, salmon, tofu and pork sausage cook away alongside the meat, the ginger and salt from the broth perfectly season each ingredient.

“It’s really refreshing, and many people, when they’re sick, I always recommend this ginger broth because ginger is good at warming you up from inside the body,” says owner Rika Kobayashi. No wonder it’s known to be a great remedy for colds.

This lovely meal is complete with a side of rice, and a choice of ramen or udon to finish it all off.

From Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, take advantage of Ichiriki’s gift card promotion, which allows patrons to purchase a $100 gift card for $90, and a $200 gift card for $170.

Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant
510 Piikoi St., Honolulu (and in Aiea and Kaneohe)

589-2299