Category Archives: Gingers

Cekur or Sand Ginger or 沙姜

Uncommon where I now live; common where I used to live.
It’s mid-Spring but it feels like Summer! So what better time to begin my Split-&-Spread task.

Cekur/Sand Ginger is actually a beautiful plant which I now use as a seasonal groundcover ~ it just hibernates and hides in late Fall and Winter. Its a tropical plant so its growth is somewhat erratic in the northern hemisphere, but its aromatic rhizomes and leaves which I use as a seasoning and/or marinade is worth the challenge.

Cekur as groundcover

When the leaves show up, I take it as a call to propagate, to make up for my kitchen use in the coming months. This is a very tender rhizome so I use only an old metal teaspoon and my bare hands to retrieve them.

Rinsed to check for active roots

For now, those with active, fat, white roots will go into a “crib” to be covered thinly with rich soil. This will help to develop roots and a couple of green leaves and for 2017 I plan to spread them out to different spots around the garden.

Root development “crib”

My motto: what you like and can’t find in stores, you grow … at least try to grow. :mrgreen:


“Seek and you will find…” this aim/mission has been half accomplished.

Walking through the markets’ vegetable stalls in Penang, I see so many familiar items which simply reminds me that there is so much more I can add to my backyard in the US.

Sand Ginger and the Finger Root

On the right is the Sand Ginger/Cekur which I found, via a gardening club in Florida, grown by hobbyists as beautiful groundcover. I’m now growing this to be used for cooking!

On the left is a root called Temu Kunci or Finger Root, yes it does look like human fingers 😀 and is commonly used in Southeast Asia when mixing a curry or sambal paste.

So now I have a new item to seek … in case any reader in the US is growing this root or knows a fellow gardener who is, please send me a note. Unfortunately it has to be freshly harvested to be re-growable.


Shampoo Ginger

I was given a plant which I was told is “Shampoo Ginger” over 3 years ago at a garden exchange meeting. It bore lots of leaves but nothing else so I decided to transfer it to the back “slope” on the edge of the property.

But … last week a few pink buds of sort suddenly popped out and I began observing if the bud would change, open up or just stay as is.

Shampoo Ginger bud with a pollinating "outlet".

Shampoo Ginger bud with a pollinating “outlet”.

The opening.

The opening.

The pollinato...!?

The pollinator at work.

So, will I get seeds? Is the Shampoo Ginger  used to make shampoo? I’m about to find out.


The mysterious Sand Ginger

Cekur or Kencur in Malay, 沙姜 in Chinese, can be found in markets in Singapore and Malaysia but in all the Asian stores I’ve been to in the US, it is a “never to be found” item ~ a mysterious underground substance.

So, via a kind gift from a GardenWeb Ginger Forum member, I got a piece to carefully grow in my backyard, to become my small personal supply.

Edible leaves of the Sand Ginger

Edible leaves of the Sand Ginger

Delicate Blooms of Cekur

Delicate Blooms of Cekur

Cekur Roots

Cekur Roots

They grow well in the Florida summer but not as fast as in the tropics. With that little bit, yes that’s considered a little bit, I will make a sauce (pesto like), some for dipping, at the dining table (sesame oil & calamansi lime juice need to be added to dipping sauce), and some to be used as part of a marinade for chicken, shrimps or firm toufu. Continue reading

Galangal (Alpinia Galanga)

Galangal is known as Lengkuas in the Malay Lanugage and 南姜 in Chinese.

Everyone uses Galangal in Asia ~ Malays, Indians, Thais, Vietnamese… literally, everyone (in the kitchen). It is sold in every food market you go to, including air-conditioned supermarkets that sell wine, cheese & pâté at their deli corner. Coming to the US, I found it quite difficult to get fresh Galangal and buying 1 too many rhizomes is not practical, expensive and wasteful as it does not stay fresh for very long. Using the powdered version lacks its juice, fibre and “zing”. The wisest thing to do then, was to plant some. After trying out a few spots, I have found that they need semi-shade to do well.


When harvesting some, I just need to gently feel for the rhizome end then break off a portion and allow the plant to grow as undisturbed as possible.  The pieces below will allow me to make 2 portions of curry for 4 & a jam-size bottle of pickles (Acar), combining with other herbs & spices of couse.