Cooking with Galangal

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Galangal for sale at market, Thailand

Galangal is a knobbly rhizome that looks a little like ginger and although they are related their flavours are vastly different.

Galangal is used almost exclusively in recipes from SE Asia where its pungent earthiness yet also citrus notes, gives a depth and interest to both broths and curries.  Young galangal has creamy white skin with pink shoots but as it ages the skin thickens and the colour changes to a deep gold.

Fresh galangal can be grown in gardens in warmer parts of NZ. You will sometimes find it at Farmers Markets and fresh produce markets such as Avondale markets.  It is also available frozen in Asian supermarket or conveniently minced and sold in jars in your local supermarket.
When using fresh galangal it is either sliced into very thin strips or grated with a sharp fine grater, as you would with ginger.

1cm of fresh galangal is equivalent to around 1 teaspoon of minced.

Some of our favourite recipes using galangal include;

Chicken Satay originates from Malaysia but due to its popularity can be found on menus around SE Asia. There are many recipes available. most have long ingredient lists but remember the method is simple.


chickem-satayFish Amok.  A  popular Cambodian dish and one that is a staple on cafe menus. This is my version and one that I think stacks up pretty well compared to those we ate in Cambodia.

Fish Curry


Tom kah Gai or Thai Chicken and Coconut Broth would not be the same without galangal where its earthiness adds a great depth of flavour.  Similarly Beef Rendang is made even more delicious with the addition of galangal.

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5 thoughts on “Cooking with Galangal

  1. First used galangal about 30 years ago, it was almost impossible to source. Rendang is my one of my favourite recipes to use it in.

    • Gosh Stephanie that is amazing you found it 30 years ago. I have only started buying it in the last few years. I need to work on a new rendang recipe, mine isn’t as good as I would like.

  2. Yum love the sound of all those recipes Helen! And apart from the rendang, they’re quick enough to make after work. We can get galangal fresh here in Adelaide in the bigger supermarkets.

  3. In Laos we ate soups and noodle dishes that included sliced young galangal as a vegetable. I haven’t run across this anywhere else in Asia. I have successfully recreated these dishes at home with homegrown galangal and it is a delicious way to eat it.