Saturday, August 4, 2012

Alpinia galanga

Alpinia galanga is the spice that is most frequently used in Thai food. While it is botanically known as a ginger, and is even sometimes known as Thai ginger, for culinary purposes it is referred to as galangal. The flavor is more peppery when compared to ginger root.

The older, tan-colored rhizomes have the most intense flavor, while the new tender sections are milder. If you often flavor your cooking with ginger, this species is a good one to grow because the rhizomes may be dug at any time of the year for use in your favorite recipes. Unopened flower buds are also edible when steamed. 

The large inflorescence of greenish-white flowers is very showy for a short period of time in mid-summer. The canes are evergreen when grown in frost-free locations, and flowers will appear at the tops of the previous year's growth.

The erect canes grow 4-6 feet tall and individual leaves are 2-3 inches wide by 12-14 inches long.
Although they will grow in sun or shade, the plants perform best in moist environments. I had a clump growing for years in a part of the garden with no irrigation. It survived, but barely produced enough rhizomes to keep the clump going, much less have any for harvest. Since I moved the clump to an area that receives over-spray from the nursery irrigation I now have to harvest the rhizomes on a regular basis to keep the clump a manageable size.
Alpinia galanga is recommended for USDA Zones 8B to11.
Use it in curry pastes, stir-fries, soups and tea. Most cooks peel galangal before use. The rhizome is very dense and requires a longer cooking time than ginger, so it is usually cut in thin strips or crushed before being added to a recipe.

The rhizomes have been used in folk medicines to treat a wide range of ailments. It has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Unknown said...

We used a lot of galangal in our curries too. It is ground up together with other ingredients. As it is readily available in the markets, we don't plant it as the clumps are huge.

David The Good said...

These are pretty enough to use as an ornamental.