Clear Mountain Garden Treasures

Clear Mountain Garden TreasuresCulture and Germination - Galangal

A soft and green part of a plant
that does not become woody.
A usually horizontal stem (sometimes underground)
that grows new roots and shoots along its length
see also Bulbs, Corms and Tubers.
Areas with cooler winters, typically
south of the Bay of Plenty.
Areas with warmer winters, typically
north of the Bay of Plenty, inclusive.
Areas with cooler winters, typically
south of the Bay of Plenty.
Areas with warmer winters, typically
north of the Bay of Plenty, inclusive.
Common Name Galangal

Galangal belongs to the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family of plants. It grows herbaceous stems made of rolled up leaf bases from an underground rhizome (horizontal growing stem). It is the rhizome that is used as a spice. Harvest the younger rhizomes, and allow the old rhizomes to grow more stems. Excess rhizomes can be frozen.


Plant in full sun. This will result in the best flavoured rhizomes and fragrant flowers in the autumn. The stem dies after flowering and should be cut off at the ground level.

Start your rhizomes off, either in a 20 cm pot, or straight into the ground. In colder areas, it is best to plant first into a pot, use a 50-50 mix of ordinary potting mix and sand. Keep the pot sheltered in a frost free location. Once established, plant into the ground in the spring to allow the plant sufficient time to establish itself before the onset of winter.

In warmer areas, plant straight into the ground, making sure first, the soil is well drained. If you have clay soil, then it may be necessary to plant in a raised bed. Plant with the whole rhizome under the soil, with just the tip of the growing point sticking out.

Water sparingly. The rhizome will start to grow even in the absence of water, but may rot if given too much. Give enough water to keep the soil just moist. Gradually increase the amount of water as the plant grows. Water established plants well in the Summer, but none at all in the Winter.

Galangal has a clumping habit and it is best to allow 1m between plants. When growth starts in the spring, remove all old stems by cutting them down to the ground level. This allows light into the middle of the clump, encouraging the new growths.

Harvest the rhizomes from current season's growth that has matured, but have not yet grown woody. Use a sharp knife to sever the rhizome from the parent plant and pull it up by yanking on the stem. If the stem breaks off, the rhizome is either too young or too old. It is best to allow the plant to grow one full year before you start to harvest the rhizomes. Excess rhizomes can be washed, peeled and frozen.

 How to use Galangal

The part that is commonly used is the rhizome (underground stem). This looks like a very large ginger. Harvest only the young rhizomes as the older ones tend to get woody and poor in flavour. When harvesting, pull out the whole stem with an attached piece of rhizome. If the rhizome is too large for one recipe, the excess can be frozen.

In Thai cooking, the young shoots are steamed and eaten.

 Malaysian Satay Recipe


   2    candle nut (buah keras) *
   ¾ cup    shallots (preferred) or onions
   4 cloves    garlic
   3 stalks    lemon grass, or equivalent powder*
   1 inch    galangal root
   1 teaspoon    chilly powder, or to taste
   ¼ teaspoon    turmeric powder*
   1 can    coconut milk
   1 teaspoon    tamarind paste, dissolved in warm water, or to taste
      salt to taste
      brown sugar to taste
      roasted peanuts (chopped) - don't use peanut butter
      salt to taste
   ½ teaspoon    dry shrimp paste (belachan) powder* (optional)

Grid part-A finely and sauté in medium heat oil until fragrant and shallots / onions are cooked.

Add part-B into the spices and add extra water (about 2 cups) to make a thick dipping sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes. The sauce should taste spicy but sweet.

Meat marinade

   500 g    meat - either chicken breast, pork, lamb or beef fillet
   ¾ teaspoon    turmeric powder*
   ½ teaspoon    coriander powder
   ½ teaspoon    fennel powder
   ½ teaspoon    cumin powder
   1 pinch    white pepper powder, to taste
   3 cloves    garlic
   1 inch    fresh ginger root, or equivalent powder
   1 inch    fresh galangal root, or equivalent powder *
      Salt, sugar and honey to taste - the meat should taste a little sweet
   1 teaspoon    vegetable oil

The meat should be cut into strips, then mixed with the marinade. Skewer into kebabs then marinade overnight.

BBQ the meat, basting with coconut milk.

Garnish the satay with quartered raw onion, sliced cucumber, pineapple pieces, toasted bread and pressed steamed rice (ketupat).

Ingredients marked an asterisk (*) should be available in Asian grocery stores.







Featured Plants
Click to view
This month: Dragon Fruit
This species of night blooming cactus... [More...]
Click to view
Last month: Furcraea longaeva
This relative of agaves produces a huge... [More...]
Random Plant
Click to view
Persimon has been cultivated in China... [More...]