One of the most magnificent herbs commonly used in Thai cuisine the galangal (Alpinia Galanga) has a lemony and camphor scent and a spicy flavor. Known also as Thai ginger the galangal is indeed a member of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family and shares some morphic characteristics with its more commonly known cousin, however its larger size, larger foliage and beautiful blossom make it an impressive ornamental plant compared to the common ginger. When it comes to flavor I find galangal to also be the more pungent and compelling and basically incomparable and definitely not interchangeable with ginger.
The galangal is another member in the short list of ingredients that comprise the lemony base of Thai curry pastes (gaeng) alongside lemongrass and makrut lime. Other uses of galangal include flavoring soups, stews as well as salads and snacks.
Galangal offers diverse method of usage. The more commonly eaten part is the plant’s fresh rhizome. Wash the rhizome and slice of dirty or less fresh segments. Slice the rhizome into thin medallions and further cut to achieve a desired size and shape. This is commonly used to flavor soups, salads, stir-fries and of course added to curry pastes as one of key ingredients.
Rhizomes are also dried and ground into a fine powder. Dry galangal powder can also be used as replacement for fresh rhizomes if you cannot find the fresh version.
Those who grow galangal in the yard can also benefit from the edible flowers that are spicy and sweet from nectar.