Galangal, also known as galanga, is a member of the ginger family and comes to us from Southeast Asia. The Alpina galangal variety is referred to as greater galangal, while Alpinia officinarium is known as the lesser galangal. The two seem to be interchangeable in cooking.
Galangal has both culinary and medicinal uses and is a staple of Thai cooking. You may have heard of it referred to as Thai or Siamese ginger. It is used throughout the Indonesian and Malaysian region and is a popular addition to curries and soups as well as a seasoning for fish and meats.
The flavor of this herb is a combination of sharp, peppery, citrusy, and earthy tones.
Galangal is a rhizome that is prepared in the same manner as ginger. First, the skin is removed and then it is grated or minced before adding to dishes. You could also slice it into soup as the soup is cooked, though the tough, fibrous slices need to be removed before serving. Ginger and Galangal cannot be used interchangeably because the taste is very different. If you have more than you can use, freeze the rhizomes and use them as needed.
Medicinally it is considered beneficial in treating inflammation, intestinal gas, muscle spasms, and fever.
Galangal requires moist, fertile soil and can be grown in a partly shady or sunny spot. Just remember to overwinter this herb inside. If you would like to try galangal, then check out the International Market on Winchester or Germantown Parkway.
Source: The Herb Society of America
Galangal Coconut Soup
- 14 oz chicken stock
- 14 oz coconut milk unsweetened
- 7 slices galangal
- 3 stalks lemongrass cut into 1” slices & bruised
- 4 shredded kaffir lime leaves if available
- Himalayan pink salt to taste
- Lime juice to taste
- Thin slices of sweet potato and/or white mushrooms are a delicious option.
- Simmer until hot and sweet potatoes are tender.
- Traditionally, the herbs galangal & lemongrass are not removed when served. They are not to be eaten, so you may choose to remove them.
Galangal Lemongrass Tea
- 4 stalks fresh lemongrass end trimmed and chopped. (You may wish to pound it to release the flavors.)
- 2 tbsp galangal thinly sliced
- Place lemongrass and galangal in a quart size jar. Pour filtered hot water over herbs, cover, and steep for 5-10 minutes.
- May be served hot or cold.
- Use cream or honey to smooth out the taste and sweeten as desired.