fresh-ish galangal Photo: Thomaswanhoff

Galangal is a rhizome, like ginger and turmeric, but tastes like neither. It’s been described as ‘pine-like’ or smelling a little like tree resin. While that doesn’t sound too appetizing, it is essential to many Southeast Asian dishes like Tom Kha Gai (Thai chicken, mushroom and coconut soup), Satay marinade and the divine Beef Rendang. Sadly, there really is no adequate substitute. While it is readily available fresh in a lot of Asian stores in major western cities, it can be expensive. Frozen galangal is an excellent substitute and can be kept for when you need it – just defrost a chunk or two at a time and keep the rest frozen. If possible, try to get it in chunks rather than slices as some recipies require very thin slices, and the root is fairly sturdy and hard to re-slice thinner.

While I have found dried and ground galangal easily on Amazon, neither of these will do for many recipes. However, it is supposedly quite easy to grow if you get your hands on a large, fresh hunk. Personally, I’ve never had any luck with it, Here’s an informative blog post on how to grow it from a fresh piece of store-bought galangal: How to Grow Galangal from store-bought Rhizomes.

Published by Remittance Girl

A writer of erotic fiction. My work can be found at

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