By Contributor Kerry Saretsky, French Revolution
I remember sitting wide-eyed, watching the advertisements during Saturday Morning Cartoons, and thinking, “I have to have that.” Whether it was Flexiblocks or Teddy Grahams or Chia Pets. I only knew, with extreme urgency, I had to have it.
I hope that’s how this post makes you feel, because the one thing I have to have right now is ginger jam. Luckily, as I’ve grown up, I’ve become more discerning. So you can trust me. Anything I truly love has to give me a run for my money while igniting the same childlike delight I felt for Teddy Grahams and Chia Pets. Ginger jam easily somersaults over the cut.
Ginger jam, or ginger preserves, or ginger spread, reminds me of a mixture between the pickled ginger you get with your sushi, and marmalade. It has all the heat and spice and aroma and sweet fire of ginger. But it’s thick and sweet and gooey in that jammy way. The sweetness and spice balance each other perfectly—like in a ginger cookie that can miraculously be both savory and sweet at once. It’s a multi-tasker; when you use it in a marinade, the sugar in the jam creates an instant caramelized crust on fish or meat as soon as it hits a hot oven. It thickens and flavors dressings and sauces. It adds so much punch—heat, and spice, and sweetness, aroma and flavor—just with a few spoonfuls from one helpful little jar. It takes a familiar flavor, ginger, balances it more perfectly than any scales of justice ever could, and gives us a convenient, modern, no-fuss way to use it in a million new ways. I even saw mention of it in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook. What could be more of the moment?
First, where do you find ginger jam? I use The Ginger People’s ginger spread and find that to be easily hunted down. Second, what do you do with ginger jam, once you have it? Here are some suggestions, and, of course, a recipe.
Serve it on a cheese platter instead of membrillo, marmalade, honey, or jam. I love it with Manchego, or other sheep milk cheeses.
Serve it with sliced gingerbread, for an extra kick.
Brush it onto fish with herbs, and grill it, as per Gwyneth Paltrow’s grilled salmon with ginger preserves and thyme.
Whisk up a marinade of ginger jam, soy sauce, and sesame oil and use it to coat salmon or tofu, and broil until the ginger jam bubbles up and caramelizes.
Use it in the dressing for an Asian slaw.
Add it to apple pie or apple turnover filling for a sweet zing.
Add a small amount to a homemade tuna sushi roll.
Add it to barbecue sauce for slow-cooked ginger ribs.
Serve with homemade shortbread cookies for impromptu and unusual do-it-yourself Linzer tarts.
Add ginger jam to ground fresh sushi-grade tuna meat, along with a splash of soy, form into patties, and sear into tuna burgers. A bun and some wasabi mayo should do the trick.
I love these sweetly simple no fuss ribs—perfect for an at-home takeout night.
4 tablespoons ginger jam, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 pounds baby back ribs, divided into single ribs
2 scallions, finely sliced
In a large plastic food storage bag, mix together 2 tablespoons ginger jam, the soy sauce, and the rice vinegar. Add the ribs, and toss to coat. Marinate in the fridge overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet, and boil the marinade. Pour the marinade over the ribs, and cover tightly with foil. Bake 1 hour and 45 minutes, then take the foil off the baking sheet, turn the ribs over and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons ginger jam in a large saucepot over medium heat until it loosens in texture. Toss the ribs in the hot jam to coat. Scatter the chopped scallion over the ribs, and serve.