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Powdered ginger (Recipe: spicy peanut noodles) {vegetarian}

Updated January 2012.


Ginger Rogers (remember Top Hat?).

Ginger Baker (remember Cream?).

Ginger Grant (remember her???).

Trader Joe's triple-ginger cookies.

What do they all have to do with powdered ginger?

Well, in their own way each is or was a little bit over-the-top, like the zing my cooking gets from good quality powdered ginger, a staple ingredient in the cuisines of Asia, North Africa, Europe, the West Indies and Caribbean — and a staple in The Perfect Pantry.

Depending on the country (and climate) of origin, powdered ginger can be pale or vibrant, mild or pungent, lemony or peppery. The main producing countries are Jamaica, India, China, Nigeria and, more recently, Australia. Penzeys powdered ginger has warm, lemon overtones, and plenty of bite. I like the balance.

Powdered ginger

Ginger to be dried is harvested 9-10 months after planting, when it is fibrous and more sharp-tasting. After the rhizomes are sun-dried, the skin is scraped off, and sometimes the pieces are boiled or bleached. Stored in an airtight container, dried pieces or powdered ginger will keep for six months on your spice rack, or up to a year in the freezer.

Powdered ginger is a must in curry and masala blends, five-spice powder, and quatre épices. It pairs well with carrots, pumpkin, squash and sweet potato, and imparts warmth and depth to baked goods. Powdered ginger tastes very different than fresh, and one should never be substituted for the other.

In English pubs, bartenders used to set out small containers of powdered ginger, for people to sprinkle into their beer — the origin of ginger ale. In order to gee up (encourage) a lazy horse, English  farmers apply a pinch of ginger to the animal’s backside. I'm not sure how that works, exactly....


Spicy peanut noodles

The owners of Moka, a restaurant in Boston's Back Bay in the 1990s, shared this recipe with readers of my newspaper column. It's great hot or cold.

From the pantry, you'll need: peanut butter, Japanese rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, cumin, five-spice powder, powdered ginger, chili powder.

Serves 6 as an appetizer or light lunch.


2 cups peanut butter
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
1 lb cooked angel-hair pasta, or any pasta (I use udon noodles)
Optional garnishes: shredded carrots, scallions, red peppers, cucumbers


In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except pasta, and mix well. Add pasta, toss, and garnish as colorfully as you wish.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Cold sesame noodles
Mee goreng/fried noodles
Cold soba salad with peppers and ponzu dressing
Rice noodle salad with shrimp and scallions
Seven-spice udon noodle soup

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Spicy whole wheat sesame noodles, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Thai peanut noodles, from Iowa Girl Eats
Cold noodles with chicken and peanut sauce, from David Lebovitz
Five spice pork and veggies with udon noodles, from Poor Girl Eats Well
Five spice chicken with peanut noodles, from Anticiplate

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Ginger, Ginger, Ginger...where would be be without you? Last night, as the Thanksgiving deluge (on both fronts) was winding down to a mere drizzle, it was time to break out the Punkin' Pies. Pies? Yes. We always need two...as the first one is devoured by the four of us in fine fashion. And we need a second to serve as a coutnerpoint to leftovers. Whipped cream is a must...with a dash of vanilla and a pinch of dried ginger. The subtly of the spice is not lost on the pie...or the cream.


Peter, my friend, welcome to The Perfect Pantry! Two pies, eh? Sounds like quite the feast! We were too full for dessert, but I'd been planning baked apples with a cinnamon-ginger-brown sugar topping. Next time...

Thanks for instruction *not* to use fresh for powdered ginger - that had never occurred to me; since being in the UK where lots of spices are around in fresh or whole forms fairly cheaply (in Indian stores generally), I have been kind of ignoring my spice powders - good to know they're a special resource....

I rarely used powdered ginger until I learned (from Alton Brown) that it enhances the flavor of cinnamon, which is one of my favorite spices. Now I always pair the two up!

I have to second your endorsement of Penzeys ginger. Ever since I've begun ordering my spices from them there is no going back to grocery store spices.

My little brother calls ginger "Amy's Pepper" because I love it so much I seem to use it in everything. In fact, in addition to powdered ginger I always have fresh and pickled on hand as well.

One use for fresh ginger that I've only begun recently is to make a tisane that is great right before bed. Steep 1 slice of lemon, 1 slice of orange, and 1 thin slice of fresh ginger in hot water for about 3 minutes. Sweeten with honey.

I love all of the great information on your site! Thanks so much.

Well-written post — I can tell you are a food writer.

Don't you love the no-nonsense Penzeys labels? I always know I am getting quality with Penzeys — and to think the company started out here in Wisconsin.

Paul, do try the powdered ginger. I add a little bit to a box gingerbread mix, and it really makes a difference!

Ari, great tip about cinnamon and ginger!

Amy and Mimi -- Penzeys is the best, isn't it? They just opened a store outside Boston, which is closest to me but still more than an hour away. I usually order by mail, and have never been disappointed with the quality. (I must say that the stores are disappointing, however; no food, no cooking, just shelves of jars. Would be nice to see their spices in action....)

The picture in the spicy peanut noodles - what are the little black specks? They don't look like pepper?

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