The chemicals that give ginger its zip produce the sensation of heat in your mouth. The pungency increases as fresh ginger ages or dries, so thicker, older roots and the powdered version common in dry rubs impart more spice to a dish. Fresh ginger does mellow as you cook it, but too much in a dish can still extinguish the other flavors in the food.
When More Is Less
Doubling all of the other ingredients in the dish can tone down the heat and spice of too much ginger, plus you end up with leftovers for the freezer. In some recipes, such as gingerbread or ginger-lime chicken, you can simply double the amount of all the other spices for a zestier version. Serving the dish with rice, pasta or potatoes provides an easy way to minimize the intensity of the ginger.
Just a Spoonful of Sugar
Sweetness can counteract the intensity of hot spices. Many dishes that call for ginger also call for sugar, so adding a little more granulated or brown sugar, honey or molasses can temper the tiger of too much ginger. Start by adding 1 teaspoon at a time until the intensity of the ginger subsides. Other sweet ingredients, such as ketchup or pineapple juice, can also reduce the overload.
Creamy dairy calms the fire of too much spice. Add a small amount of milk, coconut milk, yogurt or sour cream, as appropriate to the recipe, to tame the flame. Top ginger-flavored desserts with a mound of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The vanilla flavor brings out the vanilla undertones of ginger, taking the emphasis off of the spiciness.
Quench the Fire
In sauces or glazes, a splash of citrus dilutes the spiciness and adds another dimension of flavor. Reducing a sauce intensifies the flavor, so you can take it in the opposite direction by increasing the base liquid or even adding some water.
When not working in her family-owned food and bar business, Viola Horne can almost always be found with a cookbook in one hand and a whisk in the other. Horne never tires of entertaining family and friends with both comfort food and unusual delicacies such as garlic cheese smashed potatoes and banana bacon pancakes.