A rhizome with a hot, ginger-peppery flavor, galangal is used primarily as a seasoning. Greater galangal, also called Laos ginger, Siamese ginger and Thai ginger, is the best known and most widely available. It grows throughout Southeast Asia and is particularly popular in Thai cooking. This creamy white-fleshed rhizome is often used as a substitute for ginger. Laos is the name given to the powdered form of greater galangal, which is slightly more intense than the fresh form. Greater galangel can be found in Asian markets. Lesser galangal has an orangish flesh and a much stronger, hotter flavor. It's not as well known and is seldom seen in the United States.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.