Also known as galangal languas, Siamese ginger. Herbaceous perennial rhizomatous rootstock used as flavoring. Tender.
Value: Negligible nutritive value.
Before use scrape or peel off the skin. The raw chopped or ground root is used in Malaysian and Indonesian dishes with tofu, meat, poultry, fish, curries, and sauces. It is also used as a marinade to flavor barbecued chicken. The fruits are a substitute for cardamom, the buds can be pickled, and the flowers are eaten raw with vegetables or pickles in parts of java. In Thai cooking it is preferred to ginger. In medieval England a sauce was made from bread crusts, galangal, cinnamon, and ginger pulverized and moistened with stock. It was heated with a dash of vinegar and strained over fish or meat.
There are many variations on this soup, the recipe for which comes from Vietnam. First, make a stock from the following:
4 cups water
1 chicken carcass
4 bulbs lemon grass, bruised
5 in. Galangal, peeled and sliced
1 onion, roughly sliced
2 dried red chilies
6 kaffir lime leaves salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Then strain the stock through some fine muslin. Reheat in a heavy saucepan, adding the meat from the chicken carcass, chopped finely, together with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and 4 tablespoons of lime juice. Simmer for 5 minutes and then add 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, left whole. Simmer for an additional 3 minutes before stirring in ½ cup thick coconut milk. Do not allow to reboil. Check the seasoning. Serve hot.
Plants contain cineol, an aromatic, antiseptic substance. The essential oil acts as a decongestant and respiratory germicide and digestive aid. In India it is used as a breath purifier and deodorant, and a paste is made from the rhizomes to treat skin infections. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac. Infusions are taken after childbirth.