Galangal is an Asian delight ripe for experimentation in any cuisine. It closely resembles its cousin, ginger root. Both are nubby root/rhizomes, however, galangal is considered a little more brazen and fiery than ginger. Its taste and aroma are more woodsy, he-man stuff, stunning like horseradish with a touch of mustard At the same time, galangal is credited with being floral, spicy, even “clean” with a lot of citrus happening. Galangal has much going on!
Pronounce it “gah-lang-gah,” and always go for the fresh, greater variety which is the most potent galangal. Its flesh runs from an ivory hue to a warm brown. Its skin is tighter, lighter and shinier than ginger root and can have a hint of pink to it. Peel it, than you are free to crush it, bruise it, pound it, grate it or cut into small, thin strips. It can take it!
History tells us greater galangal is native to Java while lesser galangal is native to China. Today, it is grown in the warmer parts of Florida and California.
Chef James Ehler over at FoodReference.com tells us, “In addition to being used as a spice in cooking, galangal has been used in Asia and the Middle East in perfumes, snuffs, aphrodisiacs, and as flavors for condiments (including vinegar and beer), in teas in Germany and wines in Russia. Like ginger, galangal has been used for medicinal purposes to treat nausea, flatulence, and dyspepsia.” Galangal also has two other familiar cousins: turmeric and cardamom.
Store your galangal rhizome in well-sealed plastic wrap in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. It freezes well when cut into thin strips. There is no need to thaw them.
- Asian dishes
- Chile peppers
- Stir fry
Below are foodsites with recipes using galangal.