The Gingers (Zingiberaceae) are such a fun family, aren’t they?
You know more members of the family than you may think you do. To name a few, the common ginger of course, but then turmeric, cardamom and galangal are also part of that family and there are many more, about 1,600 of them.
Grachai also known as wild ginger or fingerroot is probably of the less known ones and possibly the one that I like the most. The thing that makes grachai stand out is its incredible anise like scent. Historically this feature had led the Thais to intuitively use krachai to perfume pungent dishes, often to mask unpleasant smells of gamy meats or seafood. Nowadays with refrigeration, rotting meat is less of an issue, however krachai remains a companion to quite a few traditional dishes.
The part of the plant used is the fingers shaped rhizomes, that are typically julienned peel on, or pounded into a paste and then added into stir-fries and curries. You may have access to fresh krachai, but if that is not the case, don’t worry, as grachai is often sold frozen and produces the same results as a fresh root would, although fresh roots have a better decorative appeal. Rhizomes are also dried and grinded into a fine powder that can be used as a substitute for the fresh rhizomes.