Towards the end of my trip to the Greenmarket this past Saturday, a rainstorm forced me to seek shelter in Whole Foods. Soaking wet with a backpack and totebag full of local goodies, a very non-local vegetable caught my eyes: fresh galangal from Hawaii. Fresh galangal? At Whole Foods? I thought that was something that was only found in Chinatown, and usually frozen at that. I knew that it was an omen, so I picked up a four inch piece of galangal along with a handful of fresh thai peppers (another “At Whole Foods?” moment for me).
When I returned home, I immediately pulled out the cookbook that I had in mind when I spotted the galangal: James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor. The book is full of delicious recipes from the Spice Islands, but I do not get to cook from it very often since nearly every recipe requires a trip to Chinatown to pick out ingredients such as fresh turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, and, yes, galangal. This time, I at least had one ingredient on hand without having to treck down to Mott St.
The recipe I picked out was Spice Braised Nyonya Pork. Pork butt sauteed with galangal and a paste of shallots, then braised with water, sugar, double black soy sauce, rice vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. All of this is reduced until the sauce just barely coats the meat. It ain’t local, but it sure was delicious!