Galangal: Flowery, Intense, Romantic

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - June 08, 2011
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You don’t own a successful company in hawaii for more than 100 years without doing something right. Third generation family-owned CS Wo & Sons has built its reputation on integrity and customer service. its CS Wo Gallery, Homeworld, Slumberworld and now Ashley furniture home Stores have an extensive selection of furniture, bedding and accessories in all price ranges, and pride themselves on standing behind every item they sell. i would like to dedicate this column to Jim newton, sales manager for Homeworld in Pearl City for the last eight years, who has been in the furniture business for 43 years. he loves what he does and is proud that the Pearl City store has the highest producing volume. newton is originally from Michigan and moved to hawaii about 13 years ago. in his spare time, he loves to read, is active in sports and plays golf. he especially enjoys spending time with his daughter angela and his granddaughters Kassandra, age 5, and Aliea, age 3.

Galangal was known to ancient Indians and has been in the West since the Middle ages. a close relative of ginger, it is an important and popular ingredient in the foods of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand. Ground galangal is easier to work with than whole galangal, and is commonly called for in recipes. The flavor is similar to ginger, but more flowery and intense.

Greater galangal is native to Java. it is widely used in Indonesia and Malaysia as a food flavoring and spice. lesser galangal is native to China, and is also grown in India and the rest of South east Asia. although not used as frequently in Europe today, both galangals were formerly imported in great quantity to use as medicine and spice.

Watch out - both galangals have been used in Europe and Asia as an aphrodisiac for centuries!

This chicken is spicy, so if you like it milder, use less chili paste.


* 4 cups coconut milk (may use low- or nonfat)
* 6 dried Kaffir lime leaves (Asian or Thai market)
* 3 1/4-inch slices fresh galangal (Asian or Thai market)
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons fish sauce
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 2 teaspoons roasted chili paste or 1 teaspoon sliced fresh chili
* 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced into 1-inch pieces
* 6 chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
* 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
* fresh mint leaves, for garnish

In a saucepan, bring coconut milk to a boil. Add lime leaves, galangal, lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar, roasted chili paste and lemon grass. Simmer for 5 minutes. add chicken and mushrooms. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Taste to see if extra lemon juice, fish sauce or sugar is needed. If soup is too thick, add a little more coconut milk or water.

Pour into serving bowls. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, mint or basil.

Serve with rice.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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