Geoff McCabe

Galangal – the Ginger of Thailand

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Galangal is a rhizome of plants in the ginger family its roots stemming originally from Indonesia. Similar to it’s brother ginger, though lighter in colour and stronger in taste it is high in fiber, sodium, vitamin A and C. They are available as a whole rhizome, cut or powdered. The whole fresh rhizome is very hard, and slicing it requires a sharp knife. A mixture of galangal and lime juice is used as a tonic in parts of Southeast Asia. Carrying the healing properties of ginger in the effect it has of soothing the stomach, it is also useful as an anti inflammatory and is high in antioxidant activities. Like ginger too, it is most effectively peeled with a spoon as the skin’s woody texture isn’t the most appealing. Galangal holds a large space in Thai cooking. Here at the farm we pickle it with Tumeric, Sesame oil, Vinegar and Tappa Dulce to make a delicious and healing salad topping to fill your plate with healing properties and vitality. We also make galangal tea to soothe an upset tummy.

galangan root

We found a couple of these ginger-type plants growing here and thought they may be galangal, which is used extensively in Thai food. We’re not sure who planted them, but they did turn out to be this wonderful herb/spice/root and we have since multiplied it into a larger bed.

Galangal spreads out over time, and we don’t propagate it by seed. To encourage faster growth, you can remove it from the soil and replant it in smaller pieces, giving more space to spread out.

It seems to love our tropical weather and soil, and is one of our more successful plants, growing easily with little maintenance, fertilizer, or water. In fact we almost forgot about it for a few months and found it had spread nicely into a large patch.

Uses of Galangal

It’s a member of the ginger family, but quite different. It’s most famously used in the “Tom Yum” sauces of Thai dishes such as Tom Yum Gai, a favorite at Thai restaurants in the United States.

The flavor is very distinct and different from ginger despite their close resemblance. Some describe it as more citrus like or peppery, and it’s generally spicier than ginger. It can be prepared and used in all the same ways that ginger can, such as grating it, pickling, dehydrating to make a powder, etc.

Health Benefits

Galangal is used in many natural remedies just as its cousin ginger is:

    Anti-Inflamatory, used for arthritis
    Helps with sea-sickness or nausea (chew a slice raw)
    Improves blood circulation
    Helps stop diarrhea

It has tons of anti-oxidants and phyto-chemicals, and is a good source of Vitamins A & C, iron, and sodium

More Info – Health Benefits of Galangal – What is Galangal?