Wild Ginger uses Galangal for its fiery taste and fibrous texture which adds an extraordinary element to Asian cooking. The clean spiciness works in wonderful harmony with garlic.
Closely related to Ginger, this aromatic tropical rhizome, an underground stem producing edible roots, is also often called wild ginger. Originating in Indonesia, Galangal is used widely in Asian cuisines for its citrusy, bursting flavor and gritty texture similar to ginger, yet galangal roots, have a less peppery heat, are larger and pale yellow with zebra-like markings. It has become an important ingredient in many dishes and it is locally known as laos, leuqkuas, kencur or kah. There are two types of galangal- greater and lesser, both are reddish-brown on the outside with the inside being pale yellow or white.
Greater: (Alpinia Galanga)
The most common form of Galangal used in cooking for it's zest, especially in Indonesian and Thai cuisine, as well as in perfumes for its floral, rose scent.
Lesser: (Alpinia Officinarum)
Native to Southern China, and used there since antiquity, the flavor is mildly spicy and refreshing with less bite than the larger species of galangal. Cultivated in Southeast Asia, the lesser galangal is used in curries and aids in distinguishing the difference between Thai and Indian curries.
When selecting galangal, select the hardest, heaviest, mature rhizomes because they are hotter, and to some extent more flavorful, but be cautious because fibers of an old rhizome may hinder the fine cuts required for most cuisine. Like all exceptional things in life, it's all about timing.