Friday, November 28, 2008

Medicinal Plants: Blue Ginger

My mum had big bushes of this rhizome, and I knew it as the Blue ginger or lam keong. Whenever she braised ducks or belly of pork, she would tell be to dig a sliver of it. It is very difficult to dig the rhizome in the dirt. Your hands get all muddy and the rhizome is very tough to cut. You have to be careful not to dig too much, otherwise you injure the plant. We kept our own ducks, and we slaughtered a lot of them. So there was a lot of digging and muddied hands. Mum She says it helps to remove the gamey smell of the duck.

I too, grew a big bush in the NTU gardening club allotment. It is more than eight feet long. I don't use it because my husband didn't like it's flavour. So well did I grow it? It was for nostalgia.

In Singapore, it is called Galangal , But it has different names in the different South East region. It is grown for culinary and medicinal uses. The Malays and Indonesian use it for their fried rice Nasi Goreng, it is a must in the Thai Tom Yum soups. The Vietnamese use it in their braised pork like my mum did. You can buy them as a whole root, or cut or powdered.

As a medicinal use, in the Southeast area, mix with lime juice and drink it as a tonic. In man’s quest for youth, some drink it claiming its prowess as an aphrodisiac, and a stimulant. Galangal oil is also used regularly in various forms of oils for anointing.

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