Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Better Know a Spice: Galangal (a.k.a. Blue Ginger)

Spice: Galangal

What is it? Also known as Blue Ginger, it is used extensively in Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian cuisine.

Where'a it from? There are two varieties of galangal: greater (laos) galangal is native to Java, and lesser (kencur) galangal, used less commonly is found on the south east coast of China.

Is it an imposter of ginger? Greater galangal is a creamy-colored rhizome with a gingery, camphorous bouquet, while lesser galangal is orange in color and is hotter and more pungent. It is used either as a whole root or powder.

Is it a “Defisher”? Galangal is effective in neutralizing the salty fish taste and is therefore used most frequently in fish and shell-fish recipes. Its flavor is tempered best by garlic, ginger, chili, lemon or tamarind.

What are its health benefits? Galangal cures gas!

Spice up your life: For centuries, a tonic of galangal and lemon juice has been used in south-east Asia as an aphrodisiac- move over chocolate covered strawberries!

Will it burn my mouth off? Yes! 5/10 on my mouth-burning scale

Recipe Idea: Add it in coconut milk for a Thai soup!

Where can I buy it? Indonesian Groceries on 16th-17th and Morris, Asian Grocery complex on 11th and Market, and Reading Terminal

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