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Information for Ginseng
Ginseng is one of eleven species that belongs to the genus Panax of the Araliaceae family. This can be found only in the Northern hemisphere, specifically in Eastern Asian countries with colder climates. It is characterized by an erect stem that is about a foot (30 cm) high with three leaves divided into five leaflets each. The plant also bears small red berries and yellow flowers.
More important than the plant is the slow growing root. Large and fleshy, the ginseng root is about 2" to 3" (5 to 8 cm) in length and 1/2" to 1" (13 to 25 mm)in thickness. Spindle shaped with small rootlets protruding through the bottom, the root is covered with rings on the main portion.
The root of ginseng is often dried and may be found in slices or as a whole piece. Traditionally, this root was used as herbal medicine to promote vitality and increase energy. Today it is also used for cooking to help give dishes a distinct flavor.
Ginseng carries a strong taste that can be likened to bitter radish. It should be used in moderation during cooking to prevent an overpowering flavor. It may be added into soups and stews or added into rice and stir fried dishes.
Photo Credit: Cea.