Galangal is a plant from the ginger family native to Asia. It is classified in two categories: lesser and greater galangal.
Lesser galangal, quite rare, is more aromatic and used as a vegetable, while greater galangal, also called blue or Thai ginger is best known and readily available in shops. Galangal is native to China but the most popular is the one from Thailand. The part that is used is the root, which is actually a rhizome like lotus. The rhizomes of the plant are mostly used whole or grated.
Galangal is sometimes called “ginger” because of their resemblance but also their tastes which are rather close. Galangal is less spicy than ginger and for this reason can be a substitute in some recipes. Fresh galanga has a slightly lemony flavor that is reminiscent of kaffir lime, a small, scented lime.
In addition to its subtle flavor, galangal has many virtues. It helps with digestion, is effective against motion sickness and nausea, hiccups, or upset stomachs.
But also, and more specifically in China, it is traditionally used to stimulate appetite, reduce rheumatic pain or osteoarthritis.
Its essential oil is tonic, stomachic and stimulating. And finally, like ginger, it makes a great aphrodisiac.
Where can you find Galangal?
In Los Angeles, it is not easy to find fresh galangal. However, it is possible to find it pre-sliced and frozen at Asian stores like Indonesian market Simpang Asia.