Cool and Crunchy Gingery Dip for Summer Entertaining

When people try this dip on a cracker or cucumber slice, what happens is that they ask for the recipe. My friend and summer island neighbor Kay Wood who winters in Woodstock, Vermont, gave me the directions. I tasted it at an art show opening, one of which we have practically weekly here at the Historical Society building in July and August, and thought it was really delicious. People were scooping it up left and right and it didn’t last long at all.

For whatever reason, the dip seems very summery to me, maybe because garlic and ginger have such bright flavors and the water chestnuts add cool crunch. I decided to intensify it a bit by reducing the mayonnaise and sour cream originally called for. That is one of those judgment calls you get to make—if you need or want more dip go ahead and double up on the white stuff.

You might also want to add scallion greens or parsley just for a little color because otherwise it tastes a good deal more interesting than it looks. Or you could try the old sprinkle of paprika gambit. Or you could just leave it as it is and surprise the heck out of people.

I freely own that the ingredients are not necessarily something one might normally stash in the pantry. Neither is hard to find, though, certainly not water chestnuts. You can usually find candied ginger near the dried fruits or natural foods. I found that about a dozen slices of ginger equaled six tablespoons.

Ginger Water Chestnut Dip
6 tablespoons of candied ginger, chopped finely
1 eight-ounce can water chestnuts, chopped finely
1 to 3 cloves of garlic, to taste, minced
½ to 1 cup of mayonnaise, to taste
½ to 1 cup sour cream, to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and chill. Serve with vegetables, chips, or crackers to dip.

Makes about one and a half to two cups of dip.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.