This is a common item and i do not know if there are any Asian readers who does not know these sugar cubes. Well, it is always a hand gift item for friends who just return from Taiwan and apparently, these black sugar ginger blocks are very common in Taiwan. In recent years, I noticed that it is common in Singapore shopping centres as well whereby promoters are actively promoting these black sugar ginger combo either in the form of granules or cubes at the supermarket.
For this recipe, there are two main ingredients: ginger and black sugar. I believed most readers are aware of the health benefits of ginger. It is one of the most well known herbs in many cuisines and famous for its ability to cure nausea , alleviate stomach discomfort including reducing intestinal gas production. In addition, due to its spiciness, it helps to warm the body and enhance blood circulation in the body. This recipe requires old gingers which are characterized by the formation of fibres in the roots. Old ginger are much more effective,nutritious and more aromatic. In addition, it is also spicier as compare to young ginger.
Black sugar is considered as a type of Chinese medicine and if you cannot find black sugar in the supermarket, head over to a Traditional Chinese Medicine Store, it is very likely that they are selling these black sugar. I first encountered using these black sugar when an old Chinese nanny gave some to my wife and telling her that whoever in the family have stomach discomfort, steep these black sugars and drink. She brought the black sugar back from China and that is the local remedy that they have at home for stomach discomfort. While I know black sugar has lots of medicinal benefits, but I am in no position or capacity to advise you the exact benefits it have. What I knew is it is a type of unrefined sugar from sugar cane.
“Black Sugar (Kurozato) is a common ingredient in Asian cooking and baking. This type of unrefined sugar comes from the island of Okinawa and has many health benefits not found in white and brown/red sugar. It is believed to help lower cholesterol levels and neutral blood fat contains molasses, potassium, iron, calcium and other minerals necessary to our diet. While chocolate might be the comfort food of choice in the west for many women during painful periods; in Japan (and Taiwan as well), black sugar is the soothing medicinal of choice as iron and calcium help ease the discomfort, bringing ease and relief during the menses while the mellow sweet taste and calories muster up energy to help endure it. In Chinese medicine terminology we would say that it treats painful menstruation by moving and nourishing the blood. Black sugar looks a lot like brown sugar, only darker in color and more complex in taste, smoky-malt like with a bit of saltiness. Some common serving styles include dunking it in a cup of ginger tea (excellent for cold days or people suffering from cold syndromes), melting it into a caramelized sauce, processing it into crystalized lollipops with a sour plum surprise waiting in the middle or having it straight up in cubes as a mildly sweet snack. (Source: Health Benefits of Black Sugar – Chinese Medicine Traveller)
The benefits of this drink include:
- Prevention and alleviate cold and flue symptom’s
- Alleviate pain and anaemia symptoms during mensuration period
- Prevent bronchitis or bronchial infection
- Nerve calming and helps insomnia
- Reduce nausea resulted from motion sickness and pregnancy period.
- Reduce cough and phlegm
This is a rather concentrated recipe. I do not like those sold in the stores as the ginger taste are very faint resembling drinking syrup water and even after drinking, I do not find any bodily warm. While other recipes required one part of ginger to two parts of black sugar, in this illustration, i have used one part of ginger to one part of black sugar. Therefore, it can be much spicier than the store bought version.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepare about 1.2 kg of sugar cubes (25 servings)
- 600 grams of black sugar (can get in supermarket or TCM stores)
- 600 grams of fresh old ginger
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Clean the ginger using a scrub and let it air dry or sun dry. Once dried, cut the ginger together with the skin into smaller pieces and use a food processor or blender to blend the ginger paste as fine as possible. The finer it is, the better it will be as you will not see any ginger residue in your tea. Ginger powder can be used but it may not yield the same taste or aroma. For home setting, I will think that a bit of residue is acceptable in a cup of drink.
- Bake the ginger paste in the oven with the door open at 150 degree Celsius until it dries up. To expedite the process, you can squeeze off all the ginger juices and leave the ginger fibre. However, the aroma and effectiveness will be greatly reduced. Give the paste a quick stir for every 5 minutes until the ginger residue dries up. You will know when you start to see strands of fibres in the mass. If it forms a crumb, you can use the food processor to blend it into a more powdery form. This process will take at least 30 minutes. If you do not have the oven, you can stir fry on a pan under low to medium heat. Constant stirring is required to avoid formation of crumbs and even frying. The main purpose of this step is the make the ginger more aromatic and that the ginger juices will not hinder the recrystallization of the sugar at the later stage.
- In a wok or pan under low to medium heat, put the black sugar and dried ginger. Stir until the sugar melted. Once the sugar melted, transfer the mixture to a pan line with baking paper. Pressed it down to your desired thickness and as compact as possible. Let it cool for about 5 minutes and when the sugar is still warm, use a sharp knife to cut into smaller pieces.
- For servings, steep one block with a cup of hot water. Adjust according by adding more water if it is too spicy. Best drink warm for better effect.
This is a simple recipe and one may ask why should we take the trouble to prepare all these since we can just steep hot water with ginger juices and black sugar. The reason is very simple, it provides a convenience and the sugar cubes can keep well in air tight container. When you need a cup of the tea, just steep a cube in hot water and an emergency home remedy tea is available.
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