Galanga: properties and uses in the kitchen – Easy and Simple Home Cooking Recipes

 

Hello Cocinacas! Do you know the galangal? Also known as galangal or blue ginger, it is a spice that belongs to the same family. It stands out for its important beneficial properties for health and its potential culinary and medicinal uses. Therefore, today we want you to know what its traditional uses are, its benefits and how to take it.

The spices for cooking they have been used since ancient times and most of them come from the Middle East. They are excellent salt substitutes, while giving intense foods scents, Colour and highlight their flavors. Through this section you can find out which are the most used spices in the kitchen. You will also find articles about the properties and benefits of each spice, for example if you want to know more about turmeric or what are the properties of fennel.

Currently the galangal is not one of the best known or used in Europe because ginger has gained fame, but as we will see below, it has not always been this way.

The skin of this rhizome is between brown and orange and its interior can be white or pale yellow. It is usually marketed in three formats: fresh galangal (the rhizome or underground stem itself, as it is extracted from the earth), the dried galangal (thin sheets about 3 mm thick) or in dust (It is the ground dried galangal).

In countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, southern China, Vietnam and some parts of India it is used very often as a condiment. This one has a sweet taste, spicy (when fresh) and an aroma reminiscent of ginger root, camphor, black pepper and pine needles.

Medicinal properties of galangal

Leaves of the galangal plant
Leaves of the Galanga plant

The plant is Asian origin but Europe came through trade routes between continents. Specifically, during the Middle Ages, the galangal played a very important role since the monastic medicine I used it to heal a variety of ailments, and some considered that this root had miraculous powers.

The use of galangal in Western healing traditions continued until the traditional german medicine, and thus it spread to other countries of the old continent.

The medicinal properties of galangal are particularly extensive due to the active organic compounds found in the plant. These include flavonoids, tannins and essential oils that generate a wide variety of positive effects on the human body.

Anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is the root of most diseases. This means that chronic inflammation is linked to the development of a myriad of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and many others.

Galangal reduces pain related to menstrual cycle and those suffered by people with rheumatism. It also helps reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and joint-related pains.

Rich in antioxidants

These prevent the generation of free radicals that kill our cells and help to prevent aging or disease such as diabetes, cancer or heart type.

Antiseptic

The spicy flavor of fresh galangal and its strong aroma make it a great antiseptic. With these properties you can treat fungi, bacteria and even viruses.

Its consumption has also been effective respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, cough and sore throat, linked to common cold or flu.

Digestive properties

With them you can treat the stomach ache, the ulcers, the gastritis and the acidity. It also helps treat gases, both intestinal and digestive tract.

Culinary uses

Thai curry
Thai curry

In cooking, galangal is used mainly as spice in different asian kitchens like Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese. In all of them they use it to provide their characteristic flavor and aroma to all kinds of soups, curries, sauces and broths. To do this, they add some slices of fresh galangal.

It is also often used in fish and seafood recipes, usually in the company of other ingredients such as coconut milk, garlic or lemon.

As a flavor enhancer, this spice is also included in wok preparations, adding slices, and in recipes chicken and all kinds of stewed and roasted meats.

It is also one of the ingredients of tempeh, a fermented soybean cake that is a traditional recipe of Indonesian cuisine. And a basic that is used in the elaboration of the thai curry paste.

Another option is to mix the galangal with other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, or cardamom.

Finally, in addition to taking it in tea, there are countries that incorporate galangal in different spirits to add flavor. For example, in Poland it is used to flavor vozka. In Russia it is added to vinegar and a liqueur known as Nastoyka, while in France it can be seen in some varieties of Chartreuse liqueur.

As you can see, galangal is very similar to ginger in terms of medicinal properties and uses in the kitchen, so in this case, it is a matter of taste whether one or the other is used, and even both.

We hope that after this article you will be encouraged to try galangal and tell us what uses you give it in the kitchen.

 

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