This very aromatic root is widely used in cooking for very many sweet and salted recipes. In shape it is a bit gnarled and it can be used in very many ways. You can buy it fresh, dry, preserved in vinegar, candied and powdered. It is typical of Chinese cuisine but it can be found in cuisine all over Asia and it can be often coupled with the fresh taste of lemongrass.
In Western cuisine, on the contrary, it is employed with spices such as cinnamon and star anise and it is a typical ingredient of gingerbread. With ginger you can also make very good drinks, the most famous of which is ginger ale. If you buy it fresh (which is now very easy, both in the best supermarkets and in ethnic shops), you must peel it and then you can cut it in different ways: you can slice it more or less thin, you can cut it in long sections or you can grate it either with a grater with very small holes or with purpose-made ginger-graters (which are sold in houseware shops).
If you use dried ginger, this usually comes in small scales and it might result a bit less tasty than the fresh one. Gauge the quantity according to your taste. The powdered one, on the contrary, is usually more intense in taste, so start with a tip of a teaspoon and then taste it. Remember to keep it well sealed into its jar: otherwise, after a while it will lose its taste. Ginger preserved in vinegar, called “gari” in Japanese cooking, it’s the one served, for instance, with typical sushi, which tastes somewhat sweet-and-sour, and it comes either in very thin slices or in scales. To end up, candied ginger is employed very much in sweets. It comes as dice, slices or strips covered in sugar.