What is the difference between galangal and ginger?

Are you tired of getting your spices mixed up in the kitchen? Do you find yourself gingerly adding ingredients to your dishes because you’re not sure if it’s ginger or galangal? Fear not, my fellow foodies! In this ultimate guide, we’ll dissect these two root rhizomes (definitely a real term) and help you differentiate between them.

Meet the Roots

Both ginger (Zingiber officinale) and galangal (Alpinia galanga) belong to the same family, Zingiberaceae. These foul-smelling roots are native to Southeast Asia and have been used for centuries as traditional herbal remedies due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger

You’ve probably heard of ginger since it’s one of the most common spices used all around the world. Fresh ginger has a brownish skin with yellow flesh inside, while dried ginger is usually beige in color. Ginger packs quite a punch with its spicy flavor, which is why it’s often added as a natural flavor enhancer rather than being consumed on its own.

Galangal

While both roots may look similar at first glance, there are some key differences when compared side by side (more on that later). But let’s just focus on galangal right now – brace yourselves for an earthy aroma with citrusy undertones! Unlike ginger, fresh galangal has reddish-brown skin with white-colored flesh inside. Its taste is less pungent than that of ginger, but still spicy nonetheless.

Get Ready To Spot The Differences!

As mentioned earlier, gingerand galangal can be easily mistaken for each other at times.That’s where our checklist comes in handy!

GINGER GALANGAL
COLOR YELLOWISH-BEIGE REDDISH-BROWN
SKIN THINNER, SMOOTHER TEXTURE ROUGHER, DRYER TEXTURE
FLESH INSIDE YELLOW WHITE
TASTE (RAW) SPICY, PUNGENT & A BITTERSWEET. LESS OVERTLY CITRUSY THAN GALANGAL.                                                                    EARTHY UNDERTONES   COMPLEX WITH LEMONY OR BRIGHT HERBAL AFTER-TASTE  
The differences are pretty evident once you look closely at the roots. While both of them have their own unique taste profile and medicinal qualities, galangal is definitely more pungent than ginger with stronger earthy notes.

Nutritional Differences

Apart from flavors and aromas in which the two rhizomes differ greatly, they also vary nutritionally:

Ginger

Ginger has been used for centuries as a natural remedy to alleviate nausea and vomiting sensations caused by morning sickness during pregnancy or chemotherapy-induced conditions (1). It is rich in antioxidants that help strengthen immunity against diseases like flu and cancer; fights inflammation throughout your body so it doesn’t just relieve pain but keeps your muscles healthy too!

Galangal

Galangal shares many of these same benefits as ginger — but it also contains several compounds that can kill parasites such as ringworms,Diphtheria bacteria growth along with tumor-harbouring cells! The specific alpinetincontained within galangal’s volatile oils hinders fast-growing cell reproduction while slowing down uncontrolled cellular expansion– even reversing established tumors’ growth. Galangal also contains a wealth of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds thought to possibly fight off heart disease(2).

Cooking with Ginger and Galangal

Both gingerand galangal are used for flavoring dishes, especially in Southeast Asian cuisine. They can be added to soups, curries, stir-fried vegetables, meat marinades and sauces too! Here is how you can use them:

Ginger

  • Cut fresh ginger into fine slices or grated – add it directly to the dish while cooking.
  • Dried ginger should be infused by adding it early on in the recipe. It’s normally used when making pickles and certain biscuits/cookies.

Galangal

As mentioned earlier, galangal’s scent profile makes it re-cut/pureed as opposed to grating like its gingery cousin:

  • Infuse freshly cut pieces of galangal in boiling water to make tea
  • Puree/Ground into paste form before adding so that it cooks up evenly.

Final Thoughts!

Next time you’re at the supermarket looking for some exotic spices don’t just adhere blindly; try out both roots (again we’ll point out ‘roots not bulbs’) in various cuisines & see what suits your taste buds best!

Sources:
1)”Ginger.” National Center for Complementary
and Integrative Health.U.S Department of Health & Human Services. N.p., n.d.Web.(source)
2)”Galanga: Benefits And Uses For Your Skin
And Hair..” Boldsky.com5 December 2018(source)

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