is also called Bunga Kantan in Malay or Etlingera elatior. It is used a lot in Asian cooking. My school has got a patch of them – they are self-propagating and just multiply by growing roots along under the ground. Above ground, the leaves grow up to 7-8 feet and are so heavy that they keel over sometimes. I have had to ask the school gardener’s help to cut some down just so that other plants in the herb-spice garden get some sunlight.
Now and then, I organise a donation drive where I sell the herbs and spices from the school garden to contribute to the school’s fund for needy students, and the torch ginger buds are $2 a piece.
The teachers who cook often buy one to share – one is much too much.
What can they use it for? The recipes that come immediately to mind are:
For the dressing:
- 2 tbs of prawn paste
- 2 tbs of tamarind sauce (tamarind paste mixed in water) or lime juice
- 2 tbs of sugar
- half teaspoon of chili paste
- half a teaspoon of belacan powder (optional)
- 2 tsp thinly sliced bunga kantan (torch ginger bud)
- cucumber, cut into small chunks
- pineapple, cut into small chunks
- green apple/guava, peeled and cut into small chunks
- crispy yu tiao (dough sticks), cut into 2-cm chunks
- crispy tau pok (roasted fried bean curd puff)
- turnip (jicama or yam bean), peeled and cut into chunks
- blanched bean sprouts (optional)
- 4 tablespoons of crushed peanuts.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the ingredients for the dressing.
- Stir and mix them well.
- Cut the salad ingredients into bite size and toss them into the bowl.
- Mix thoroughly all the ingredients.
- Top with the crushed peanuts and serve.
2. Steamed fish
- 1 fresh seabass, grouper or fish fillet/steak
- 1 fresh ginger torch flower thinly sliced (discard the stalk)
- 7 bird’s eye chili thinly sliced
- 2 stalks of lemon grass thinly sliced
- 1 inch of galangal (Malay: lengkuas)
- 6 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 2″ ginger thinly sliced
- 3 kaffir leaves
- Juice of 2 lime
- tbsp fish stock
- About 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp of raw sugar
- Spring onions, chopped
- extra lime for garnishing
- salt to taste
- Clean the fish and then pat dry with paper towels. Make diagonal slashes (if using whole fish).
- Soak the fish in salt water for 5 min. Rinse off.
- Set fish in a heat-proof curved dish (to catch the gravy). Please make sure the curved dish can fit into the wok/saucepan.
- Mix the water, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl.
- Stuff sliced ingredients into the whole fish and/or scatter them all over the surface of the fish.
- Pour the sauce mixture over everything.
- Finally, add the other half of the chopped green onions and garnish with slices of lime on top.
- Fill wok/saucepan with about 2 inches of water. When it comes to a full boil, set the dish on rack set in the wok/saucepan. Cover tightly. Steam for 8-10 min til cooked.
3. Assam laksa (too fiddly for me to cook – but you can try this recipe from Rasa Malaysia)
If you don’t want to use it for food, it will become a very beautiful flower for your centre piece!