Best buys

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 July, 2000, 12:00am

The season for young ginger doesn't last long, so take advantage of it while it's still available. Most people are only familiar with the pickled version, served with sushi, pei dan (preserved eggs), or with red eggs at one-month parties for babies. But young ginger - pink tipped, creamy coloured and more subtly flavoured than the mature type - can be used to add crunch and piquancy to dishes, instead of just as a flavouring. As with regular ginger, look for firm, heavy pieces. It's great with steamed minced pork - season the meat with soy sauce, rice wine, salt, sugar and cornstarch. Add cracked black pepper, diced Yunnan ham, and about a quarter cup of minced young ginger. Mix thoroughly and steam. To make the dish even better, hand-mince the pork, and make sure the meat is not too lean. Young ginger is also great with sliced beef - marinate the meat and stir-fry with julienned young ginger, a clove or two of crushed garlic, lots of black pepper, and stir in minced spring onions at the end.

Long beans are a common sight in markets, but they seem to be especially good right now. They come in pale green and dark green varieties - there's not any difference in flavour, but I like the dark green beans because they make a better contrast to the pork in one of my favourite dishes. Marinate roughly minced pork with soy sauce, rice wine, salt, sugar, cornstarch and ground white pepper. Stir-fry with a clove or two of crushed garlic, some sliced ginger (use the mature kind in this dish), and long beans, which have been diced. Stir in a little sesame oil at the end. Another good dish is long beans stir-fried with sliced marinated pork or beef, sliced red peppers and onions, and some dried chillis to taste.