In the same family as the ginger root, Galangal is often confused with ginger or turmeric due to similar exteriors. Galangal features the lightest skin amongst the root family, though unlike ginger, it typically has darker, thin brown rings along its root.
On the inside, Galangal is almost always the lightest in color amongst the roots, imparting a soft creamy yellow color. It is also one of the toughest roots to work with, requiring either a very sharp or heavy knife to cut through. Galangal has a soft camphor-menthol aroma and is used in Asian soups, lending a more intense heat similar to ginger.
Galangal can be found as whole roots in Asian grocery stores and often in its powder form. Stored tightly in zip lock bags, it can be kept in the freezer for several months. If you can’t find galangal, it’s best to simply omit it from a recipe rather than trying to find a substitute as there really is none.