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Jan 23, 2011 05:31 AM

Looks like ginger root, tastes like spruce gum finishing with chili peppers

I bought what I thought was peeled ginger root in Chinatown yesterday. It was paler than usual but shape-wise looked exactly like ginger. It was very woody when I cut it but I cooked with it anyway. It didn't taste like anything in the dish so after dinner I tried a little tiny sliver raw. WOW! It just about blew my head off. This incredibly intense pitch- like taste, like retsina times 1000. Then at the end it got very hot. I spit it out but my husband said it burned all the way down. It didn't taste like anything when it was cooked. It tasted awful raw but at the same time quite amazing because it's really a flavour you've never tasted before. I can't imagine what anyone would do with this other than keep moths away maybe. I found something called Camphor tree that is apparently used for Chinese camphor smoked duck but that is a bark.

Anyone know what it is?

It might be interesting in a martini......

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    1. re: King of Northern Blvd

      No, galangal is orange. The galangal was sitting right next to it in the store.

      1. re: crawfish

        Are you sure the orange thing isn't fresh tumeric and mislabeled or something? The galangal at my store is more or less the same color as ginger; the skin is smoother, like young ginger.

        1. re: pitu

          Hmmm, I guess what was next to it was "lesser galangal" and that's what I've used before in Thai dishes and it is orange. The item I'm asking about could be "greater galangal" but the flavour was not at all like ginger. It was like spicy turpentine!

        2. re: crawfish

          There are several rhizomes in the ginger family that are called "galangal." I'm betting that what you bought is greater galangal, which has pale flesh. (It's the one used in the famous Thai soup, tom kha gai.) It has a piney taste when bitten into that is quite unlike ginger. There's also lesser galangal, but that has much darker flesh. Finally, there is kencur, which, confusingly, is also sometimes called lesser galangal. It has a reddish peel, ligher colored flesh and a camphorous flavor. It's used mostly in Malaysian and Indonesian cooking.

          1. re: cheesemaestro

            Yes, we just had it confirmed by a Thai friend. It's Greater Galangal. She immediately confiscated it and promised she would return it in a curry!

            So I have been using lesser galangal all these years!

      2. It's definitely greater galanga or Langkuas. You don't eat it raw, it's a spice that you use in curry, soup or stir fry in Thai and Indonesian cooking. If you don't know how to make curry, you thinly slice it and put in any stir fry vegetables or meat, it will add a delicate flavor.

        1 Reply
        1. re: danifajans

          Galangal is used in many of the spice paste used in Indonesia, we did a cooking school in Bali a few yrs ago in which we combined, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, tumeric, chilli, palm sugar , shallots and lemon grass to make the spice paste. Once the paste was done was cooked down we used it as a base for asian chicken stock. They used both the stock and paste in many of the dishes we made that day and lucky for us can find quite easily in Aus.