Galangal's rhizomes are pale sand-colored with earth-tone rings on its semi-rough surface. Its flesh is ivory to yellow in tone depending on its maturity. It has a floral and spicy aroma with earthy, woodsy and mustard-like flavors with subtle citrus undertones. Its appearance gives the first impression that it is, indeed, related to ginger. Both plant's roots are knobby, wild-shaped, fibrous and firm with similar textured and colored flesh. Their relation and appearance are where the general similarities end, though.
Galangal root is available year-round.
Galangal is botanically classified as Alpinia officinarum and is known in Eastern Asia as Galanga, kah, Laos root and Garingal. It is a tropical, herbaceous plant and a member of the ginger family, cultivated primarily for its rhizome or root.
Galangal is an aromatic stimulant and carminative. Its stomach soothing properties make it a suitable aid for nausea. It possesses tonic and antibacterial qualities which make it a useful ingredient in homeopathic remedies.
Galangal root is used primarily in Asian cooking, lightly crushed or pounded as an aromatic to add earthy flavor to broths and soups. If substituting for ginger, use a smaller amount as Galangal is spicier, with brighter citrus notes. The root can be dried and ground to be used as a spice, creating a more subtle version of its mustard-like flavor profile while bringing out its musky earthiness. To store, refrigerate in a paper bag in the crisper drawer, or grate the entire root, lay in a line on a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap and twist ends tightly, then freeze.