> When my email crashed in late spring, I lost all of my contacts.
> And apparently everyone at Pennsic wanted galingal as well. At least one merchant sold out.
> Are there any spice merchants out there who are selling it? If so, please contact me.
> Thanks in advance,
> -Carowyn the spiceless
Galangal is used with great frequency in Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian cuisines, so places with Thai or Vietnamese populations will have shops selling it. Also most large multi-Asian markets sell it. And it is also available in some specialty spice shops, some Dutch shops (since they colonized Indonesia), and occasional health food stores.
It is in the zingiberaceae family along with ginger, turmeric, zedoary, and several other members used in Indonesian and Thai cooking, although they all taste distinctly different from one another. While we may call it a "root", as we do with ginger, it is not a root at all, but a rhizome. A rhizome is an underground stalk that sends out roots, so it is generally more succulent than a root.
Galangal is available in three forms: fine powder; dried slices or chips; and fresh rhizome or "root".
The powder loses its flavor very rapidly, even when stored tightly sealed in a cool dark place. So it is best to purchase in small quantities, use within a few months - and discard any left over as it will often be tasteless.
The dried slices are often found in Thai soups in the US, especially my favorite, Tom Kha Gai. In Thailand they'd use fresh slices, of course, but the fresh is not universally available in the US. The dried slices are a bit fibrous and can be extremely difficult to powder, which can be rough on many electric grinders. Soaking the slices in warm water to cover for an extended period can make them easier to deal with.
The fresh has, of course, the loveliest flavor and is what would be used in Southeast Asia. For medieval recipes, however, the fresh rhizome would likely not be used.
Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages is a fabulous resource for information on herbs ands spices from around the world - he does not sell spices. Here is his page with plenty of photos of both fresh and dried galangal:
I buy the powder at Lhasa Karnak Herb Company in Berkeley. They do mail order, although their website is not lovely:
They have an amazing range of herbs and spices.
Many swear by Penzeys, from whom i have never made a purchase. I am not sure where you are located, so here's the webpage with a list of Penzeys retail shops in 29 states:
And, of course, they sell over the internet - here's their galangal page:
99 Ranch Market is a chain of 36 multi-Asian supermarkets in Washington, California, Nevada, and Texas. If you're in one of those states, here's their store locator:
They have galangal in several forms. And much of their seafood is so fresh it is still alive, swimming in tanks.
Auntie Arwen sells at Pennsic and has a website:
However, when i tried, the listing of individual herbs and spices did not come up. I have e-mailed and i hope the website is fixed soon. She has some really terrific spice and herb blends.
I was rather surprised to see that World Spice Merchants in Seattle does not have galangal, since they are otherwise quite a wonderland of spice blends.
Whole Foods sometimes has fresh galangal in their produce section, at least in the SF Bay Area, and apparently in some other locations as well, according to the internet. I have not looked for galangal in their dried spice section, since small amounts of commercially packaged spices are often pricier than buying in bulk from spice merchants.
If you are in or near Berkeley, i highly recommend The Berkeley Bowl, especially their much larger and more extensive newer shop near Ashby and San Pablo, which not only has more stuff inside, it has many more parking spots.
920 Heinz Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710
They sell fresh galangal in their produce section.
I hope there was something helpful in this long message.