The other day I was at the markets, picking up my veggies and my fruits, and my beloved ginger, when my eyes landed upon galangal. An ingredient I’m not particularly familiar with and one I don’t use much of (actually, I do believe this would be my first blog entry & recipe with galangal!). Right there and then I picked some up, added it to my basket and began pondering what I can do with it. Once home, I googled it to find out more about it, where it comes from, what goodness (to be read nutrition) it provides us humans, and what’s best paired with.
If I wouldn’t tell you that in the picture below the strange rhizome in the left upper corner is galangal, you’d most likely (and naturally) assume it’s the more popular ginger. Which is not that terrible of a confusion – they do look so much alike! They also taste slightly similar, though different. Galangal is more peppery and citrusy and once you try to slice it you’ll immediately realize it’s a lot more harder than ginger. You actually need to be quite careful not to chop a finger or two (slight exaggeration to make a point).
Galangal belongs to the rhizome family, same as turmeric, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Similar to ginger, it is traditionally used to treat nausea and motion sickness. Galangal has a wee bit of vitamins C and A, and a bit of iron too. Though, being used as a spice and not in big quantities, it wouldn’t contribute a lot to our daily needs of these nutrients.
Did you know that?
- In addition to being used as a spice, galangal has been used in Asia and the Middle East in perfumes, aphrodisiacs and as flavors for vinegar and beer. Fancy that.
About the soup. It’s absolutely delicious, an explosion of wonderful, new (for me) flavors. But don’t expect something traditional. Because the hot weather we’re enjoying at the moment is, well, really really hot, I could not bring myself to make anything but a cold soup that wold be perfect for a light and refreshing lunch. And that I did. It is incredibly easy to make, just chuck coconut in the blender with water, strain, add to the blender again with the rest of the ingredients and you got yourself a
- 2 cups coconut milk (recipe below if you want to make it from scratch)
- 1/2 Lebanese cucumber (that’s about 2/3 cups)
- 1/3 white capsicum
- a handful of white grapes
- 1/2 green onion (just the green part)
- a small handful of coriander leaves
- the juice of 1/3 lime
- 1 cm piece of galangal, peeled (or ginger if you don’t have galangal)
- 1/2 Aji Lemon chili (or your favorite chili)
- 3-4 ice cubes
- To serve: finely sliced green onion, fresh coriander leaves, chili, lime juice
- To make coconut milk:
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup coconut (dry, shredded, dessicated – whatever you have, just not flour)
- pinch sea salt flakes
- Make the coconut milk first by adding the ingredients to a blender. Blitz for few seconds until you have frothy milk.
- Strain coconut milk using a nut milk bag or a fine sieve. Return the milk to the blender and reserve the pulp to use in raw sweets. Store it in the fridge for up to a couple of days or in the freezer for more.
- Add the rest of the ingredients for the soup to the coconut milk in the blender and whiz them until you have a smooth soup. Do not over process as it will warm up.
- Serve right away with toppings of choice.