Not Your Usual Ingredient: Galangal

Strange and exotic foods of the plant type are intriguing to me. I had to add the “plant type” because a lot of people are excited by foods obtained from killing our fellow earth creatures and I don’t want to be grouped with them. The last (and first) unusual ingredient post was of the mineral type so I’m branching out. I’ll have to confess that I haven’t used this ingredient—yet. I’m still in the “figuring out” phase.

I have a subscription to Roger Haeske’s Savory Veggie Stews. It isn’t actually supposed to be a subscription but it’s turning out that way because every time he perfects something new, he sends out an update. You really get your money’s worth. This time, it was for Beefy Bone Builder Stew. I haven’t made it because I still don’t have all the ingredients. It isn’t that they are “exotic” or rarely in the stores around here. Collards are very common but not in my refrigerator. What caught my eye and my imagination was “galangal”. It is supposed to give the BBBS a “meaty” flavor.

Along with the update, he gave a resource where (supposedly) it could be bought. I went to the site he linked to but it just talked about it. There was no ordering information anywhere. So…I was back to my old standby—Amazon! And, sure enough, there was galangal. Since a little goes a long way, the amount specified in the description should last a long time.

I started researching galangal online and found that it’s aka “kha” or blue ginger. One place said that it’s pronounced “ga-LANG-guh”. Another said it’s gal-un-gal. I don’t know how to pronounce it. I think it would be easier to call it “kha”. Or even “blue ginger”. Anyway, I’m not here to debate the pronunciation.

After ordering it, I proceeded to wait. And wait. It was coming by USPS and it was evident that it wasn’t priority mail. I was glad the weather was cool because one person said his was molded. He trimmed the mold off and used it, anyway. I prefer no mold.

Finally, seemingly weeks later (it wasn’t), there was a package in my mailbox. Excitedly, I brought it in and opened it. Here’s what I found:


After I cut the package open and pulled out the roots (technically, they are rhizomes), I examined them for any sign of mold.

Beauty shot

There was none, I’m glad to say. One of them looked like a primitive horse and the other a little man running. Strange.

Since one of its names is “blue ginger”, I thought maybe I could peel it with a spoon like I do regular ginger root. One man in the review section of Amazon suggested using a bone saw to cut it up so I hunted up a never used knife that had come with a set.

Galangal with tools

Scraping away with the spoon did hardly any good at all.

Didn't work.

I’d have to try an alternate method–a knife.


That worked but I didn’t peel a whole lot. I figured it would store better unpeeled.

I had at it with the super-serrated knife and it did the job for cutting it into “coins”.

Now, what to do with it. Once again, I didn’t have all the ingredients for the “stew” so that was out.

There are lots of online recipes with a Thai influence that use galangal but they are all cooked. One thing I did do—I sampled a small sliver of the rhizome. It was hot. I can imagine that it would be toned down considerably if not eaten by itself.

Now it’s your turn. If you are familiar with galangal, I would appreciate it if you would tell me how YOU use it.

5 Responses to Not Your Usual Ingredient: Galangal

  1. Peach December 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Tommie, I have bought galangal a few times, mine was a bright red colour on the skin. Can’t say that I actually used it but you can use it any where you would use ginger. Grate a little into smoothies or soups/dressing/nut cheeses or add a little to herb tea for an extra zing.

    • Tommie December 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

      I’ll give it a try. Thanks, Peach!

  2. Anjali December 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Awww…no one replied. 🙁
    I went to Thailand twice this year and ‘discovered’ it for the first time. I’m a big fan of ginger and fresh tumeric, so I thought that this strange taste could grow on me.
    From my first trip I brought back some dried from a supermarket.
    It wasn’t growing on me though.
    On my 2nd trip I figured it was what I could taste in a coconut soup (Thom kha) I had at the raw vegan cafe there. I brought some fresh galangal back with me and am simply grating it in with the ginger and other spices including Thai spices like kafir lime leaf and lemongrass, while cooking winter vegan meals.
    But I wanted to work out how to use it in something raw. So I stumbled upon your page and will continue to stumble around the web searching.
    I hope you have worked out some great recipes with galangal by now.
    Best wishes 🙂

    • Tommie December 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

      I just now saw your comments, Anjali. Sometimes notifications don’t come through the way they should.

      I’m a bit unsure of how to proceed. Since my gallbladder surgery, I have started having acid reflux. I wonder if ginger/galangal would make it worse? I definitely don’t need the laxative effect, either. 😕

  3. Anjali December 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    This info just came to me too.
    Just read your health challenges. Maybe some ginger and galangal could help now.
    I live in India where we use Ayurvedic medicines. But I won’t go too much into that just now. Here’s what they say are the health benefits of galangal. Also not what I was searching for, but interesting. Hope you feel better dear.

    Galangal root is a member of the rhizome family like ginger and tumeric. Different galangal varieties vary in their hotness and flavor. Flavor ranges from flowery to ginger-like to peppery cinnamon.
    Health benifits:
    * Laxative
    * Cures flu, colds and fevers
    * Helps digestion of fat in the intestines
    *Cures inflammation and stomach ulcers
    * Stomach ailments like indigestion, bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, sluggish digestion.
    * Fights fungal infections
    * Anti cancer activities
    * Known as an aphrodisiac
    Source of sodium, iron vitamins A & C. Phyto chemicals beta Sitosterol, Emodin, Quercetin, Kaempferol, Flavonoid-Galangin, strong antioxidant effects.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.