Sunday, 23 April 2017

It’s Ginger Time

As the days shorten, it is time to consider the harvest of one’s ginger plants. Harvesting in April, Sydney-time, will produce young roots of Zingiber officinale, which are fragrant and mildly spicy in flavour. However, allowing the green stems to wilt and the roots to mature through the winter months will produce an older, drier, spicier ginger… the ginger which one normally encounters in the shops.

Last August, we took advantage of unusually low prices for older ginger root at the local green grocer’s. Buying a kilo of ginger, some was sliced and frozen for later use. The rest – the pieces with well-developed ‘eyes’ or stem growth buds - was planted in a well mulched and fertilised part of the garden.

The flower of a common ginger plant

Throughout the season, the ginger has grown strongly, producing a splendid crop of young roots. Some, we have dug for their young and juicy roots to use with pork and fish dishes chiefly. As a neutraliser of strong smells in meat, it is second to none. The rest will be lifted later, and the best rhizomes will be retained for next season’s crop.

Baked fish seasoned with slices of young ginger. The fish is dart, a common fish of the beaches of New South Wales.

Like our other gingers, common ginger seems to prefer a part-sun or filtered-sunlight situation: ours grow in the company of a macadamia tree, chilli and basil plants. Furthermore, in such a position, protected from strong winds, its longish, pencil-thin stems will produce plenty of flavourful rhizomes for the wok and the pot.

Behind the flower of the Dancing Lady Ginger are the close-planted stems of common ginger, Zingiber offinale

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

'A Malaysian Garden in Sydney'

Early Season Mangoes of Malaysia

April in Malaysia… just after the opening of the full mango season. What varieties are available?

Our trip to Malaysia, on this occasion, was brief. Limited to two destinations, we did not experience the full range of available mangoes. However, there were enough tasty varieties on offer to have an enjoyable and tasty time.

Below are some of the tasty mango (mangga) varieties which we encountered this April...

A gold-skinned variety of Thailand's Nam Dok Mai mango. Its name is Lily, a semi-translation of the Thai name (Water Lily). We purchased this tasty specimen in Ipoh, but they were plentiful in Klang as well.

Mangga Susu (Milk Mango), a popular mango, appears to have a long fruiting season. These (pictured) are not fully ripe, and have a pale yellow-coloured flesh when ripe. These were also widely available.

Originally, a Thai variety Black Gold mango (Mangga Mas Hitam) is also very common. It has a satisfactory flavour. However, there are other superior mangoes available at this stage of the season. It takes its English and Malaysian names from the dark green skin (black) and the golden, almost orange, flesh (gold) These were purchased at a night market in Klang.

Mangoes for sale at a Klang night market... Lemak Manis, Mas Hitam and Lily

Like Mangga Susu, Mangga Lemak Manis, appears to have a long fruiting season. Originally, a Thai variety, Lemak Manis has become more widespread in Malaysia in recent years. One of our favourite varieties, it has dark green skin and primrose-yellow flesh when fully ripe. It is very sweet. Even when crunchy and green, it is a very tasty mango.

These specimens are not fully ripe, and at this stage, can be rather sour. However, when allowed to fully ripen, Rainbow is a delightful mango: its juicy flesh has a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Its name is derived from its ripe colouration: predominantly yellow, with a pinkish red blush on the sun-facing shoulder. These fruit had been imported from its origin in Thailand, where it is known as Maha Chanok.

Ripened 'Rainbow' or 'Maha Chanok' mangoes

In fact, if there is a stall of ripe Rainbow mangoes at a Malaysian or Thai market, you are likely to smell them before you see them: they have the most magnificent aroma.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…