What is THAT?

Galangal? Kaffir? Sorrel? Find information about some of the exotic items we carry in our produce department and how to use them at home. These items are seasonal and availability varies.

Curry Leaves
From a tree in the citrus family, they are native to South India and a staple in Indian curries as well as in some Sri Lankan dishes.

When used as a medicine, the fresh leaves are a powerful antioxidant. Ayurvedic practitioners note its many other qualities, including antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory.

In general, curry leaves are cooked in oil with other Indian spices such as mustard seeds and cumin then added to vegetable dishes at the end. Another method is to cook the whole stock with your ingredients and remove when the meal is ready to eat.

Blending the leaves with a little water makes a nice puree for chutney or as a base for curry. These retain most of their flavor when frozen up to three months.

Galangal (Thai Ginger)
Native to Java and related to common ginger, it has a flavor uniquely its own. Raw galangal has an earthy, peppery, citrus-like aroma and flavor and a clean piney scent. The fresh whole root is very hard and requires a sharp knife for slicing.

Galangal is a staple spice in many Southeast Asian dishes including Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Vietnamese cuisine. An exhilarating tonic of lime juice and galangal is believed to have aphrodisiac effects and works as a stimulant. Sliced galangal is a flavorful addition to soups or stir-fry dishes. Chop and mash for curry paste.

Galangal can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks if wrapped in plastic wrap. It can be frozen for up to 3 months without losing any flavor.

Also known as Mexican turnip, this root’s exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes.

Cut it into thin wedges and dip it in salsa as a healthier alternative to corn chips. In Mexico, it is very popular in salads, fresh fruit combos, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes. Jícama tastes good with chilli powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon, lime, oranges, red onion, salsa, sesame oil and soy sauce. Also grilled fish is a good food to combine with it.

Jícama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber. It is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavour comes from the oligofructose inulin (also called fructo-oligosaccharide). Jícama should be stored dry, between 12°C and 16°C (53°F and 60°F); colder temperatures will damage the root. A fresh root stored at an appropriate temperature will keep for a month or two.

Kaffir Lime Leaves
These leaves come from a lime tree that is native to Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Kaffir lime leaves look similar to bay leaves and have a wonderful, fresh and clean aroma.

There are many uses for the leaf. Most common use is whole in soups, and just like bay leaves they are removed from the soup and not eaten. When finely chopped, the Kaffir lime leaves add a distinctive flavor to Thai curries, coconut sauce, or marinades for meats.

This member of the cabbage family is grown for its swollen, turnip-shaped stem. The edible portion can be white, purple or green with a creamy white interior. They are eaten raw in salads or can be cooked like a turnip. Leaves of young plants may be used like spinach, or mustard greens.

With the leaf stems removed, kohlrabi can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Storage life can be extended if kohlrabies are placed in sealed plastic bags.

Kohlrabi is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. It is low in both sodium and calories. One cup diced and cooked kohlrabi contains only 40 calories and 140% of the RDA for Vitamin C.

Small kohlrabi bulbs which are young and tender generally do not require peeling. Medium to larger sizes should be peeled to remove the protective outer skin. The crisp flesh can be served raw in salads, as a relish, or as a crunchy accompaniment to dips. The bulb can be sliced, cut into quarters, cubes or julienne strips and steamed until tender. Kohlrabi bulbs can be hollowed out and stuffed with a vegetable or meat filling.

A slender plant with deep roots and juicy stems, this pot herb has been cultivated for centuries. The arrow-shaped leaves resemble that of spinach; the flavor, however, is sweet and sour like strawberries or kiwis. The sour taste is due to the high levels of ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C.

Sorrel is commonly pureed for soups and sauces or roughly chopped for salads. A soup known as schav (or shav), is made of water, pureed sorrel, salt and sometimes potatoes and is common in Polish and Yiddish cuisine. It is often served cold with sour cream; the calcium and casein react with the Vitamin C in the sorrel to relieve some of the sour sorrel taste.

Thai Coconut
Coconuts are the fruit of the coconut palm and native to Malaysia, Polynesia and southern Asia. Young coconuts have potassium and mineral-rich water and meat. Besides being highly nutritious, young coconuts have also been exceedingly revered as having medicinal qualities for heart, liver and kidney disorders.

Opening the coconut can prove to be challenging. If you wish to only drink the water, use an electric drill to create a hole big enough for a straw. If you wish to harvest the soft jelly-like white inner meat, you’ll need a machete or butcher knife and a cutting board or other hard surface. Lay the coconut on its side. For safety, don’t hold the coconut to make the initial cut. Hold the knife high and with a swift downward strike, cut into the top of the coconut. Drain the sweet coconut water into a container. Cut the top of the coconut off using the knife. Using a spoon, scoop out the white meat on the top part of the coconut that was cut off. Scoop the soft white coconut meat from inside. Add the coconut meat to the coconut water in a blender for a delicious smoothie or as a base for soups.

Turmeric Root
A native plant of South Asia, and of the same family as ginger, turmeric has a slightly bitter, earthy, peppery flavor and mustard-like smell.

In medieval Europe, turmeric was known as Indian Saffron because it was often used as a substitute for the much more costly saffron.

Most turmeric is grown to be boiled for many hours, dried in a hot oven and ground into the more common orange powder used in curries or dyeing mustard condiments.

Although the most common form of turmeric is the dried powdered form, turmeric can be used fresh just like ginger; minced in stir fry dishes and curries. It is also a pleasing flavor to add to homemade carrot juice or other veggie juices.