Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

David Ross

Galangal vs. Ginger

Recommended Posts

Today I was in the local Asian market and saw that they had both fresh galangal and ginger. I've only used fresh galangal once as a substitute for fresh ginger--but I found it far more spicy and fiery than ginger. Do you interchange the use of galangal and ginger or do you use them separately in specific dishes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't really see subbing them-they taste completely differently and I don't think you'd get a similar effect at all. What did you use them in where you subbed them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No; while they look alike, I find galangal has a pine-y flavour unlike that of ginger. That being said, I have rare and intermittent access to galangal. When I get it, I use it. If I don't have it, I leave it out; I don't sub in ginger. The only time I do is if I get a craving for Tom Ka Gai - and then I'll use it. It's a different dish with ginger, but it's still good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would describe galangal as tasting woody and medicinal, some people say it's pine-y. It was an acquired taste for me. So I'm perplexed by your "spicy and fiery" description. Do you always buy your galangal at the same Asian market? Sometimes an Asian market can be creative with its labelling. I wonder if that "galangal" is really a variety of fresh, young ginger root.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think they taste even slightly the same. They are in the same family botanically I think, but so is turmeric, and i think even cardamom.

I have heard people suggesting to sub ginger when they can't find galangal, but I think that is more of the kind of sub where you add a different taste not similar one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny, I would have said galangal has a perfume scent. I'd never substitute one for the other, their sensory effects in cooking are poles apart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I find galangal cooling, while ginger is warming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny, I would have said galangal has a perfume scent. I'd never substitute one for the other, their sensory effects in cooking are poles apart.

That is my experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would describe galangal as tasting woody and medicinal, some people say it's pine-y. It was an acquired taste for me. So I'm perplexed by your "spicy and fiery" description. Do you always buy your galangal at the same Asian market? Sometimes an Asian market can be creative with its labelling. I wonder if that "galangal" is really a variety of fresh, young ginger root.

I do always shop at the same Asian market. I'll go back and see if I can get a photo of the galangal and ask them if it's actually what they put on the description label.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think they have a completely different flavour, and would never use one to sub for the other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are two types of galangal, "greater" and "lesser" and they have significant differences in flavor and aroma.

I use dried galangal but really don't care for the fresh and although I love ginger, I have problems especially with the lesser galangal as it is hotter than ginger and has an underlying "earthy" flavor that I associate with decaying plants and which really turns me off.

The dried root has less heat and has a bit of a musky aroma and flavor but it is not unpleasant.

I have a site bookmarked, if I can find it, that has fairly extensive information about the roots and I will post it, if and when I find it. A cursory search under "galangal" on my computer did not pull it up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found my bookmarked pagee

Thai food with notes about GreaterGalangal and LesserGalangal.

Galangal

I had it filed with the names run together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think of the difference between ginger and galangal as similar to the difference between lemons and limes. They are similar and may be used in similar ways, but no one would mistake one for the other, nor should one sub one for the other and expect the result to be the same. A daquiri made with lemon isn't a daquiri, but you might still like both, and a key lime pie is not a lemon pie, but they both have their place.

That said, galangal syrup makes some interesting cocktails, and neither galangal nor ginger work for me in coffee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Galangal can, for some, have a distinct euphoric effect on the brain. This a feature of Tom Yum soup where it is especially good when combined with hot peppers.

Luke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They are both rhizomes and that is where the similarity ends.

Galangal has much more spicy and woodsy(pine?) scent than ginger and they are used in different cuisines. Young ginger is nowhere like Galangal.

Pensy's does have a powdered form of Galangal that we use in a pinch but I can usually obtain the real stuff around Chicago.-Dick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can easily get fresh galangal and fresh ginger in Hamilton, Ontario and have been able to do so for at least 12 years. The Asian stores all carry galangal fresh and frozen(which is a good idea because the rhizome pieces are generally large and I use only a portion when I make my curry pastes.)

I agree with those who say that galangal is piney and medicinal tasting. I love it in curry pastes and lakhsa (sp?), basically any dish that calls for it. I would never substitute ginger instead and vice versa. They each provide a totally different taste experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×