What Is It?

Yep, another alien-looking thingy

galangal_fresh-27

Hmmm…interesting face…a beak?

galangal_fresh-26Is that one or two creatures?

galangal_fresh-251One growing out of the other?!

Okay, you get the idea…

galangal_fresh

galangal_fresh-18Now you got it!

Galangal!

My first date with galangal was at a restaurant I loved back in my late-night partying days (pfft!) It was a place to go and have the best ever Asian fusion food; but it was mainly a Thai food restaurant. I was mystified by the flavor of my favorite soups — “What IS that flavor?!!” Granted, it was the combination of authentic ingredients. But if galangal is missing, you will notice a Thai  recipe is just not right…even if delicious, that something missing closes the deal :). That’s galangal. Ginger is often used in its stead; though, I guess it’s like the difference using lemon in place of lemongrass — you’d know! I didn’t make the connection back then; there are so many ingredients that go into making excellent Thai food.

Galangal has some benefits associated with it, such as being a good digestive aid; and claims of other health benefits. It has the same benefits of ginger — digestive, flatulence, headaches, metabolism booster, anti-inflammatory properties, etc., and few of its own! Every page I’ve read on galangal mentions its usage as an aphrodisiac: galangal combined with lime (another favorite of mine!) is used as a tonic. I can vouch for its deliciousness, if not that specific perk ;). Limeade with galangal is good stuff.

galangal_jar-21-copyBut of course, it’s about the flavor. It’s peppery and spicy. I understand the comparison to ginger, but it’s almost an injustice.  Galangal is ginger’s cousin, but is its own flavor. It seems lighter and refreshing, cool and crisp with a strong floral accent and hint of citrus. It is very unique. I am so a fan :D.

It’s more readily available dried; though try to get the freshest bottle. I’m surprised that the dried tastes similar to the fresh, unlike ginger. It is concentrated, but the flavor is the same. At least, if you try dried galanagal, you will get the essence of its constituents. It does degrade in flavor rapidly after being ground, I understand; so fresh is best. If you only have access to dried, try to get dried pieces and ground it yoursel.

Galangal goes by various names — kha, qulanjan, gao-liang-jiang, laos root, Thai Ginger, Blue Ginger, and many others. There are also two types — Greater galangal and lesser galangal. Huh?! Well, the greater galangal is what I got. To add to the confusion, there are two rhizomes referred to as “lesser galangal”. They are different rhizomes, but still related. Further, there is conflicting information on which is which and I’ve read descriptions for greater galangal applied to lesser, and vice versa. I’ve yet to compare them; so can’t provide a flavor description, much less any botanical information, being nowhere near an expert!

galangal_fresh-171

I found this galangal rhizome hard! Wow, I had to use all my body weight to cut that sucker! Tough, much more so than ginger, which I don’t find difficult to slice. It’s very woody. It looks very dry, and it is, much more than fresh ginger; though, it may be that this is because this was an older rhizome, though fresh.

I like its glossy sheen skin which is very thin; reminds of young ginger. Like ginger, the smaller, younger rhizomes are best. Since this galangal I bought was fresh, I am assuming it was grown here in California. Some are imported from Thailand, but would be found frozen. These are said to be superior in flavor; I don’t doubt it! Even if some flavor is lost in transport and through freezing, it’s still worth trying. I’m on the hunt for that next! If I’m lucky enough to find a very young galangal, I read I could plant it and have beautiful, fragrant flowers along with my very own supply of the rhizome! Would love to try that.

When I juiced it, the flavor was strong. It’s like ginger in this sense. Basically, small amounts needed. I love it in my GJGS’s (green juicie green smoothies).

My cultured veggies (Click Me, Alice 😉 )

Rediscovering galangal has been a tasty venture, even with my limited use thus far — green smoothies, cultured vegetables, limeade, ptisan, ice cubes, and a couple of dressings (that needs work!) — but now that I have fresh galangal, the taste is ripe for ice cream and, slushies! I’m looking forward to it. So many fruits would go well with a bit of galangal — anywhere ginger would go, and maybe some places even ginger can’t 🙂 I am going to add it to fruit salads this summer as well as bean salads for picnicking and other barbecue gatherings; I think that unique flavor will shine :D. It’s classic with coconut; and as a coconut lover, I’m looking forward to coming up with something using both.

If you make slaw, add some galangal, or even ginger 🙂

galangal_ptisan-2-copy

I made a warm “tea” of galangal one winter morning. The boiling water poured over the grated rhizome brought out a great aroma and flavor.

galangal_ptisan-5-copy

It’s always much stronger than I think it will be! I let it steep 10 minutes. So good. Needs no sweetening, but tastes good with it too. The mild sweet flavor is first, with a little bit of a citrus note, which surprised me! Then the spicy hits the back of the throat, all the while the fragrance is romancing you. I loved it. I decided a hint of ginger sounded good —

ginger_grated-20-copy

galangal_ptisan-3-copyOh, yes, it’s good :). I think it’s better than ginger alone; I think galangal may have ruined me for ginger tea!

My fingers smelled good; I wonder if I can find galangal essential oil?  It would be great in a fragrance. Ah, yes, Mountain Rose Herbs comes through again! Next order 😉

My breath smelled great too. It reminded me of drinking fine jasmine green tea and how it sweetened my breath; I think I’ll add some jasmine petals and give it a try.

This is making me wish I actually needed to drink more, haha. With Eat To Live style of eating, one needs little to no additional drinking. BUT, come Summertime, I do drink more 😉

I decided to make some galangal and galangal-ginger ice cubes.  I’ve done the same with ginger and other herbs. I will be sipping some ptisan or lemon-limeade, spiked with galangal ice cubes soon 😉 Maybe some Thai basil used like mint would be nice and refreshing. Gonna try that.

Next time you’re in a Southeast Asian market (or any) or a specialty foods market they just may have some fresh galangal — oh, and check the frozen section — Try some  🙂

If you ever come across these rambunctious rhizomes, try them!:D

Strix

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11 Comments

  1. heather said,

    June 11, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    oh LL, how I’ve missed your blog posts! So good to see you posting again. I will be hitting some Asian markets this weekend and will look for galangal. What do you sweeten your limeade with? Just dates?

    • poxacuatl said,

      June 12, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      Hey! Why thank you, Ma’am ;^)
      Most times, I use stevia; but, it depends: I may use frozen fruit cubes, such as pineapple or melons, apples, etc. and they sweeten too.
      Another option is the soaking water from dried fruit. When I have used goji’s for example, I soak them in water to soften, and the water left over is better tasting than the darned fruit! I understand why it is considered a goji “tea”!
      You can use fruit juice, too, if you don’t mind it.

      I think dates’d be too caramely for me in a lemon-limeade.

      Let me know what you pick up from the Asian market?.Anything special you’re making?

  2. heather said,

    June 12, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Never tried Stevia, will keep it in mind. I just got a vegan Thai cookbook from the library and i’m sourcing out the usual-galangal, thai basil, Asian eggplants ,green papaya, and some spices. So many Thai recipes have sugar in them, I may try Stevia or dates. I love al the herbs and flavors though. It’s finally a hot sunny day here, making me think of a cool glass of limeade, yum!

    • poxacuatl said,

      June 13, 2010 at 11:37 am

      Mmm, you’re making Thai! Great flavors. Yea, the sugar thing — it’s that sweet/sour thing in various Asian cuisines that kills me! It’s sort of necessary. Dates work, though, so that sounds good. Stevia’s tricky because you only need a tiny bit–too much and it’s gross (and the brand really matters); on the good side, it’s best with citrus or soury-vinegary stuff. Definitely requires experimenting.

      Love green papaya in my cultured veggies. I hope to see some soon! And Asian eggplants are great, too, because they don’t have the bitterness that the larger eggplants do.

  3. Tammy McLeod said,

    June 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Galangal! I have it in my spice rack but it’s a yellowish powder in a glass bottle and had it not been for this post, I would have had no idea what it actually looked like. Thank you.

  4. Dave said,

    June 14, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Theoretically, you should be able to change the 6 to 4 if you do two extra rows in Step 2. I haven’t tried it, though, to confirm that. If you do, please let me know if it works out. 🙂

    • poxacuatl said,

      June 14, 2010 at 8:08 am

      Hey! wasn’t expecting you here, ;^) Thanks for the response. I’ll give it a shot. Sometimes it just takes a while for the logic to sink in. I’m so NOT a math person.
      Anyway, working it with more stitches, I’ll be able to use your system. I tried the “Heels by Numbers” chart, but had problems with it.

  5. Paulang said,

    June 19, 2010 at 7:58 am

    This is similar to the yellow ginger used in making curry. It is good for increasing metabolism. Helps blood circulation

    • poxacuatl said,

      June 21, 2010 at 7:27 am

      Hm, interesting! I’ve not heard of “yellow” ginger…Or, perhaps you refer to today’s “What Is It?” 😉

  6. September 3, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    […] seeds, Black peppercorns, whole Tumeric, Cumin seeds, Coriander seeds, Galangal, […]


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