03 January 2013

The Flavour of the Week is Galangal

The flavour of the week is galangal. Galangal is a spice is popular in Asian cooking and surprisingly was well-known in European medieval cooking. It is also known as Siamese ginger or laos, since the plant is indigenous to Southeast Asia, and its rhizome (root) resembles ginger in appearance and in taste.
Different galangal specimens vary in their hotness and flavor. The spice is said to have a flowery taste, while others describe it as tasting like ginger with cardamom. However, some feel the taste of galangal is more like peppery cinnamon, while lesser galangal has a stronger, hotter, and more medicinal taste. The lesser galangal is sometimes confused with greater galangal. It comes from China, where it is used as a medicinal herb, but is grown in Indonesia and is regarded as a spice flavor for use in food.

Consuming galangal regularly can aid the digestion process, and reduce constipation and vomiting. It has been found effective as a remedy for ulcers and inflammation of the stomach. Galangal has been known to improve blood circulation, especially in the hands and feet, thereby improving oxygen supply and nutrient supply to these parts. It can also aid respiratory problems like congestion and helps regulate breathing rate. The galangal herb is used extensively throughout the East as a snuff for nasal infections. A mixture of galangal and lime juice is used as a tonic for cough and cold. Additionally, galangal powder is used against bad breath as a mouth freshener.
Galangal and other gingery spices are used in Asia and in the Middle East in cooking, perfumes, snuffs, and aphrodisiacs. The galangal spices have been used as flavors for condiments, including vinegar, beers, and wines in Russia, and they are used in Germany and elsewhere in teas. Try galangal in any cocktail where you would normally use ginger.

Edible Glassware For Cocktails

Loliware, a company based out of NYC, has come up with an all-natural, vegan line of flavoured, edible glassware. The line comes in cocktail-friendly flavours such as bitters, salty lime, sour lemon, sweet vanilla, and spicy pepper. They are currently only available in NYC, but look out for the glassware to be more widely available soon. Environmentally friendly since there is no waste, and with a texture described as "pleasantly chewy", these cocktail friendly cups would be the perfect vessel for your next house party. No washing-up and an excellent conversation starter!