Galangal is a member of the ginger family. There are two types of it – the more common one in the west which originates from Indonesia and tastes like a combination of ginger and pine. This galangal is commonly used in Indonesian cooking. A second species originates from China and tastes like a combination of ginger and pepper. The Chinese galangal is more commonly used in Thai cooking.
While Galangal is a member of the ginger family, they do not taste the same, however they way they are cooked with is similar. To use galangal, you first need to remove the tough outer layer, and then either crush it or chop it into strips.
For most recipes, if you are unable to find galangal, you can substitute it for ginger, or alternatively you can buy dried galangal, which is sometimes sold as “Laos galangal.” 1 tsp of dried galangal is roughly equivalent to 1.5cm of fresh galangal.