It’s not easy being a galanga root, with it’s flashy cousin ginger always stealing the limelight. (Case in point: Ginger Explosion II hits Union Square Jan. 26.) So, we decided it was time to give galanga a little publicity. At right is a photo of Ronnarong Saksua, chef and owner of Ronnarong Thai Tapas in Union Square, holding up a piece of galanga. We also asked Henry Patterson, one of the the creative forces behind Ronnarong restaurant, to answer a few questions about this lesser known rhizome.

Nibble: Galanga and ginger look much alike; yet how are they different?

Henry: Galanga is not as sharply spicy as is ginger and the taste is quite different. To the Western palate, when tasted alone, it has a soap quality, not appealing to many. It has a nice citrus scent. When used in Thai cooking the flavors of galanga and ginger are complimentary and entirely appealing. Both get used frequently, sometimes both in one dish. Galanga is almost always used in combination with lime juice. Perhaps because it is an erect rhizome, it is reputed to have aphrodisiac value—always a good myth to foster.

Nibble: In which dishes does Chef Ronnarong use galanga and ginger?

Henry: Ronnie uses galanga in the coconut soup, the steamed tilapia and in all types of curries, including red curry, green curry, Massaman curry, curry bird and Choo Chee (a seafood curry). He uses ginger in Ginger Chicken and Beef Bamboo.

Nibble: What about drinks?

Henry: A house made ginger syrup gets used in the Thai Toddy and in many of the cocktails, including the Thai Sangria, The Ronn and Sake Sunray—and optionally in others. Ginger is also a popular choice for house-made non-alcoholic soda.

To sample some of Chef Ronnarong’s ginger-infused dishes, visit Ronnarong Thai Tapas (255 Washington Street, Union Square, Somerville) or try to snag some of the last tickets to Ginger Explosion II, taking place at PAs Lounge Jan. 26. Ginger Explosion II is produced by fab food entrepreneur Aaron Cohen/Eat. If tix are sold out, enter our ginger limerick and haiku contest to win a free ticket! Details here: Ginger contest.