Galanga is a relative to ginger root, and has a similar gnarled, root-like appearance and juicy, fibrous inner flesh. However, galanga has an even more pungent and fiery flavor and a smooth, shiny skin. Also known as galangal, Thai or Siamese ginger, it's native to Java and Malaysia and is also found in the cuisines of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It is often paired with Lemongrass, chile peppers, shallots, and garlic for Thai curry. Tom Kha Gai, Thai coconut chicken soup, actually means galanga and chicken soup. Galanga is the kha in Tom Kha Gai! Galanga is very fibrous. Unless pounded or blended into a paste, it's a challenge to chew through. You often see slices of galanga in Asian soups––they should be left uneaten.
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