Also known as Thai ginger, galangal is a rhizome similar to ginger in appearance but slightly different in flavour and texture. Available in most Asian groceries, it has a mild lemony pepper aroma and a vinegary ginger taste. Besides being a staple of Southeast Asian and Indian curries, galangal's digestive powers make it one of the main ingredients in bitters. And in the Middle East the root is ground and used as snuff.
Here's a recipe for Thai steamed mussels that's certainly up to snuff.
In a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat, briefly stir-fry 6 thin slices of galangal, the slivered bottom half of a lemon-grass stalk, and 2 chopped Thai chilies in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Add 1/2 pound of scrubbed mussels (about 15) and toss. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and simmer until the mussels open, discarding any that remain closed. Stir in 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of canned coconut milk. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Pour the broth into 2 bowls and garnish with 2 julienned Thai basil leaves, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander, a squeeze of fresh lime and a grating of black peppercorn. Arrange the mussels on top and serve.