GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.
Galanagal  Alpinia galanga – Queen of Balnese cusine

One of the fantastic things about living in the sub-tropics is being able to grow your own spice garden – ginger, chillies, kaffir lime, lemon grass, betel leaf, curry leaf, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint, bay leaves, galangal, macadamia, pandan, lime, lemon – and they also make terrific landscaping plants too!

This is a recipe based on one that I picked up in one of the cooking classes that I took in Bali many years ago, with Janet de Neefe from Casa Luna Cooking School, and it has been a staple in my freezer ever since – usually at this time of year when the galangal is ready for harvesting.  You use the root rhizome – it looks like a large, pink ginger.  It’s best to use the young shoots that are still pink and choppable – as it gets older it gets woodier.   The aromatic leaves can also be used to wrap food before cooking on the barbecue – especially fish.

NOTE August 2017.  I originally wrote this post in 2012 – and there I was again last night, cooking up prawns on betel leaves with some of this yummy paste that I had in the freezer – not the same batch from 2012!

Betel leaf prawns with galangal paste

FIVE RECIPES USING GALANGAL PASTE FOR QUICK AND EASY MEALS

1.  One tablespoon of the galangal paste is great mixed with pumpkin/sweet potato/cauliflower with some coconut cream added for an instant curry VEGETARIAN CURRY.  Made even more delicious with a handful of toasted cashew nuts and some chopped fresh coriander.

2.  One of my favourites ways to use this paste though is with fresh prawns or a nice piece of fresh, fleshy white fish to make a simple curry.  For this I just flash fry the fish/prawns with extra garlic, fresh chilli and add one tablespoon galangal paste with a small can of coconut cream.  A little extra salt and a few fresh kaffir lime leaves and it’s done in about 10 minutes.

3.  Also great with a tablespoon added to stir fried green beans with a freshly topped tomato, 1 clove garlic and a little sliced red chilli. Top with some toasted, crushed macadamias/almond flakes.

4.  Betel leaf grows easily around here and a spoonful of galangal paste added to some stir-fried prawns and topped with chopped peanuts or toasted coconut, coriander, chilli and lime juice make a great appetizer.

5.  Last night I made a green papaya salad from the garden, made even more delicious with  a side dish of some stir fried prawns, a spoonful of galangal paste (that I keep in the freezer) and some coconut milk. (July 19th 2017)


GALANGAL PASTE   The root of the galangal plant is used for recipes like this – the pink rhizome in the photo below.  It’s a bit of a mission to dig it up, so when I do I make sure I dry some for later by simply slicing it up and drying it out on a tray in the sun, then storing it in an airtight container in the pantry.  Dried galangal like this is used extensively in Thai and Malaysian recipes – particularly soups like LAKSA. (Slicing!! – special blade on the food processor folks or the trusty mandolin – the one with the blade not strings – you’d never do it with a knife unless it is very young and tender)


Galangal Spice Paste

100ml peanut oil
1 medium onion diced
100gm grated fresh galangal (or finely chopped)
6 garlic gloves, crushed
100gm grated fresh ginger
3 large red chillies
5 kaffir limes leaves
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
500gm tomatoes
125gm palm sugar
100ml fish sauce
200ml water
salt to taste

1.  Heat oil – add everything except palm sugar, fish sauce and water.  Cook for 5-7mins.
2.  Add palm sugar, fish sauce and water and simmer for about 30 mins until oil comes to surface.  Stick blend.  
Now what could be easier than that  – with most of the fresh ingredients coming from the garden?!!

The finished galangal paste

 

And, just because we can, just a little walk in the rice fields around Ubud with the mountains of Batur and Agung in the distance.