Torch Ginger: A Magic Potion

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24 November/Posted by Aulia Meidiska

As a wealthy country, Indonesia indeed stores a myriad of nature resources to be used as food ingredients. An array of edible plants and flowers hurray the best kitchens across the archipelago when masterpieces are processed by the cooking marvels. As if a magic potion, in the Island of God, Bali, Torch Ginger or known as Kecombrang is a valuable plant giving an extraordinary sensation on the palate —an exotic flavor people usually tell.

A diverse country it is, different regions have alternative names for Etlingera elatior (the scientific name). In Sumatra there are at least 3 names of this giant flower: Rias, Kencong or Kincung, Kincuang and Sambuang while in Java it is called Honje in some areas. On the island, Bongkot, Kecicang, or Kecombrang it is to be known. Similar to coconut that all parts can be benefited for our daily demands, almost all sides of torch ginger can be cooked. From its flower to the shoot or bud gives unique flavor to a recipe.

To describe how it looks like, torch ginger is an easy plant to spot since its giant form reaching almost 5 meters when blooming well. The bud has long, thick stem while the giant petal has pinky-red hue resembling a torch. Somehow it appears like a spear when it has not yet bloomed. Balinese often cooks the bud before it perfectly turns into a flower shape. Sambal Matah is a popular recipe where the bud of torch ginger is one of the ingredients. Sambal Matah is a condiment for complementing a main course such as chicken or duck betutu, grilled fish and other protein food. In a small plate of sambal matah, it consists of sliced onions, chillies, and the torch ginger itself, creating an aromatic, floral with citrus and spicy notes.

Another side story of torch ginger is that it may enrich the taste of a cocktail. BLANCO par Mandif always perceives something beyond its prescribed value thus torch ginger is not only to be served as a condiment but an ingredient of a custom cocktail. Paired with 21-Day Aged Peking Duck where Balinese Galangal Broth and Duck Roulade are comprised in one plate, the cocktail offers fruity, aromatic and exotic tang to counter the aroma of the aged duck. Elatior, the cocktail is entitled, combines plantation rum, campari, pineapple and torch ginger in a bell-shaped glass. Its presentation comes to inform how our Indonesian gastronomy restaurant can elicit beauty in the unexpected.

Featuring torch ginger in the house is not a mere reason for producing authentic Indonesian dishes. Due to our one of key values promoting healthy menu, torch ginger is sourced to complete this mission. Healing properties in a torch ginger have been known for decades in traditional medical practices around Southeast Asia. Even recent studies show how powerful this plant is for generating antioxidant agent. It leads to the good impacts torch ginger provides for its consumers that may combat toxicity including tumor cells. The research is going further to find antimicrobial, cytotoxic and anti-tumor promoting properties in the flower shoot of torch ginger.

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