By Harold McGee
Galangal is a name given to the underground stem, or rhizome, of two Asian ginger relatives, Alpinia galanga or greater galangal, and Alpinia officinarum or lesser galangal. The former, sometimes also called Thai ginger, is the more prized and common. Galangal is more austere than ginger, pungent and with overtones of eucalyptus, pine, clove, and camphor, but none of ginger’s lemony character. In Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisines it’s often combined with lemongrass and many other aromatics. Galangal is also an ingredient in Chartreuse, bitters, and some soft drinks.