Mention Bentong, a sleepy town in the Western part of Pahang, Malaysia and chances are ginger would slip into the sentence. The town, or more specifically Bukit Tinggi, is synonymous with the rhizome that is more pungent, spicer and pricier than ordinary ginger.
The MICHELIN Guide Singapore team travels to Bukit Tinggi in Malaysia to find out more about this sought-after ginger, which is a mainstay in Chinese and Indian cuisines.
Bentong ginger is a ubiquitous sight in farms that sprawl all over the mountainous region of Pahang in Malaysia, which is more commonly known as Genting Highlands.
Thanks to the pristine fresh air and fertile soil that the temperate area is blessed with, Bentong ginger is well-endowed with nutrients like gingerol, which has medicinal benefits that help to alleviate digestive problems and nausea and respiratory conditions. Gingerol is also responsible for ginger's spicy sensation and woody aroma.
In 2015, Bentong ginger was certified as one of Pahang’s Geographical Indications by the Agriculture Bureau of Pahang. The Indication is a symbol attached to products that have specific geographical origins.
There are primarily two types of ginger: young and old. Young ginger is cultivated for six to seven months before being harvested, while old ginger requires at least 11 months of cultivation. Some farmers typically harvest old ginger from the ground and wait for many small nubs to sprout before returning the root back to the soil, where it continues to grow.
Watch the video below to find out more about Bentong ginger.
There is a myriad of ways to cook bentong ginger. It is usually julienned and added as a seasoning to steamed fish and stir-fried vegetable dishes. For those who are not so well-acquainted with the taste of lashings of bentong ginger in their food, add a dash of pickled blended bentong ginger as a condiment—a good way of introducing the flavour to newcomers.