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
125gm palm sugar
100ml fish sauce
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|