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Jan 8, 2007 10:09 PM

Bunga kantan (torch ginger)

The pretty pink bud of torch ginger, bunga kantan in Malay (botanical name Phaeomeria speciosa or Etlingera elatior), is not only improbably beautiful, it is also edible. Not only edible, it is indispensable in Malaysia.

There is no substitute for this bud, and I haven't found the authentic Penang Laksa with torch ginger anywhere in America, even in Vancouver.


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  1. Do you have a picture of the blossom you mean? There is a plant we call torch ginger in Hawai'i, but the blossom is large, and on a tall, thick stalk (see photo).

    Izzat it?

    2 Replies
    1. re: MobyRichard

      That's the same plant, I think, but the ones I saw in Malaysia looked more like asparagus spears or young closed tulip bulbs. I guess they use it the way they use bamboo shoots - when they are young. I just added a link that has the closest pic.

      1. re: grocerytrekker

        Okay, not 100% positive, but don't think they're the same plant. I think the one on the link I posted is Phaeomeria magnifica.

    2. How big a Malaysian population is there, there? Is it big enough to support other specific imports or specific produce?

      But anyway, that pic is small so I don't know for sure if it's the same thing, but that looks like what the Japanese call "myoga", so you might check out Japanese grocery stores.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MikeG

        Not aware of Malaysian grocery stores or such in the SF Bay Area. Possibly haven't researched hard enough.

        Thanks for mentioning myoga (Zingiber mioga). It also belongs in the ginger family, but torch ginger is more pink.

        I've added another link which gives a better idea. The picture is not that great, but you see its scale compared to other spices.

      2. The original comment has been removed