Ginger vs Galangal

Ginger vs. Galangal – What are the differences?

Ginger vs. Galangal, Ginger or Galangal. Is Ginger and Galangal the same thing? The answer is definitely no. In this post I will explain to you in details about what are the differences and how to use each herbs.

What kind of herbs are they?

Ginger and Galangal are both root herbs. They like to grow in tropical weather such as countries in South East Asia. In Thai cuisine, bother of these herbs are common to use but the Thais use them for different purposes.

How to identify which one is which?

Ginger vs galangal

Let’s begin with the colour. As you can see in the image above. Ginger has golden/ yellowish brown colour and Galangal has white colour skin, with pink stem. Just to keep in mind, in many shops they remove the stem so you may not be able to see the pink colour.

Next is their shape. Galangal is thinner and leach section is longer. Ginger root is short and round. Another thing that you can detect is, galangal has a clearer line in between each section of the roots. You can see the brown vertical line on the root of galangal, those are sections.

Lastly, Galangal and ginger has a completely different texture. You can tell when you chop the root. Ginger is softer and the flesh is more gooey. It has longer and tougher fibre.

Galangal has harder flesh and crunchy. When you chop the root it feels like you are chopping a hard carrot.

The meat inside of Ginger and galangal also has different colour. As you can see in the image, galangal is white and ginger is pale yellow.

The taste and aroma is also different

Ginger root has spicy, heavy and leave a warm after taste in your mouth and throat where galangal is spicy fresh and lighter. It doesn’t leave a lot of after taste like ginger.

The aroma of these two guys also different from one another. Galangal has stronger aroma, it has fresh and light scent, almost like lemongrass mixed with coriander. Ginger hasn’t got much aroma from the outside. However, the aroma come out beautifully when you cook the root.

What are the benefits?

Ginger and Galangal: Help soothing your tummy very well, especially when you have a lot of air inside your stomach; when you are bloating or have seasickness.

In Thai cuisine, we use ginger and galangal in may sweet and savoury dishes. We believe the theory of Yin and Yang and we apply the theory to many of Thai dishes. For example, desserts has a lot of sugar, which can cause the body to become unbalance (between heat and cold) and cause you to get sick. Adding ginger will help balance out the meal.

Another benefit of ginger and galangal in Thai cuisine is, we use the root in meat dishes, and they help to overcome the meaty smell and add the freshness of aroma into the dish, which help the meal to become more appetising and less greasy.

Ginger and Galangal in Thai Cuisine

From my personal experience as a Thai – Hinanese person, I see that a lot of Thai dishes that has ginger as part of the ingredient is influenced from Chinese cuisine. On the other hand, the dish that has galangal usually has lots of other tropical herbs as part of ingredient, such as Tom Yum. These dishes are purely Thai cuisine.

I wrote an article about how to clean and cook ginger here if you would like to read more.

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