July 24, 2008
Details: Panama Social Calendar

White Ginger, Lemon Grass, and Green Papaya

The rhizomes of the white ginger plant is known as lesser or greater galingale and various other terms depending on what kitchen language you’re speaking. It is currently an integral part of Thai, Indonesian, Malay and Vietnamese cuisines and grows well in Panama. The rhizome of lesser galingale is smaller with a reddish/orange hue and a spicier flavor then the common readily available greater brown skinned variety. It was known and used by the Arabs in the 9th C and its name thought to have derived from the Chinese for an ancient province of Guangdong. By the 13th C it was a popular spice in Europe although it is hardly used outside of Asia today.


Citronella or Lemon Grass was the carpet of choice in the Medieval European castle. It was seasonally strewn about and when crushed under foot, paw or hoof released its characteristic scent; sort of the glade room deodorizer of the period. It was also widely used, unfortunately without much efficacy, as a fumigant to prevent contracting the plague and today primarily in insect deterrent candles and herbal medicine. But in the Asian cuisines of Thailand and India it acts as an important flavoring agent in curries and soups.

Green Papaya, that’s unripened papaya, has an entirely different taste and texture from that of a ripe fruit and I much prefer it for its crunchy character. When I’ve attempted to serve it to the locals they politely taste it but usually mumble that is duro. Anyway it’s used green in various Asian cuisines in salads and especially in the ubiquitous table salad served with Vietnamese cuisine.

Anyway these wonderful and flavorful components are available in your own back yard and next Thursday July 24 at 10:00 The Three Sisters will teach you how to use them. Visit Panama Social Calendar for the class information