Chinese Keys

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Chinese keys one of several unsatisfactory names for the rhizomes of Boesenbergia pandurata, a plant of SE Asia which belongs to the ginger family. Light brown multiple roots (7–12 cm/3–5" long, 1 cm/0.5" in diameter) hang down from a central corm, like a bunch of keys. The flesh is bright yellow with a creamy core and has a distinctive lemony-ginger aroma.

Chinese keys are available fresh, dried, or powdered. Their sweet, aromatic flavour is an important ingredient in the green curry paste used in Thai curries of chicken, duck, and fish as well as in soups and sauces. They can also be steamed and eaten as a vegetable; pickled; or eaten raw when young.