Turmeric, a relative of ginger, is a key seasoning in Indian and other Asian cuisines, adding bright golden color and warm, earthy flavor to curries and more. In recent years, turmeric has been touted as a “superfood” with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other purported health benefits (take it with black pepper to maximize absorption).
Turmeric is a tropical plant with a long growing season, so we harvest it when it is still young, before it has to face much winter weather. As with baby ginger, baby turmeric is more tender than the mature rhizome and lacks most of the outer cuticle, making it easy to use in a multitude of ways!
You’ve likely encountered turmeric mostly in its powdered form, but fresh baby turmeric is a treat! Fresh turmeric is a great addition to smoothies and juices. It’s an essential component of Thai curries, like the yellow curry in the recipe below. It is excellent pureed into soups, or even cut into pieces and added to a stir-fry. And you can use it pretty much anywhere you’d use powdered turmeric—substitute a tablespoon of grated fresh turmeric (about 1 inch of rhizome) for 1 teaspoon of powder. However you use it, be mindful that its vibrant color—sometimes used as a dye—readily turns hands, dish towels, cutting boards, and anything else into gold!
Store fresh turmeric wrapped in a towel in a bag in the fridge. You can also freeze it for long-term storage (to use, grate directly off of the frozen piece; it can turn mushy when thawed).
We’re enjoying playing with fresh turmeric, and we’d love to hear what you make with yours!
Thai Yellow Curry
This classic Thai curry is redolent with the flavors of turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, and chiles. Serves about 4. Recipe by Chef Kevin Archer.
Thai Yellow Curry Paste
This flavor-packed paste freezes well, so we like to make a big batch and freeze it in individual 1 ½ tablespoon portions for many meals to come. Recipe by Chef Kevin Archer. Yield: 1 1/2 cup
1 oz fresh turmeric, skinned and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 oz ginger, chopped
1 oz coriander roots, chopped (optional)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 oz lemongrass, chopped
1/2 oz red chiles, chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1. Place turmeric, onion, ginger, coriander roots, garlic, and lemongrass in blender. Also add chiles and lime juice.
2. Blend to a puree.
3. Add ground coriander, ground cumin, peppercorns, and sea salt. Blend again.
4. Heat peanut oil in heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Add mixture from blender.
5. Fry paste for 5 minutes or until fragrant.
6. Cool and place in a well-sealed jar. Keep in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.