Bunga Kantan / Torch Ginger Flower
Torch ginger is a species of herbaceous perennial plant. The ginger flower’s botanical name is Etlingera elatior. It is also known as torch ginger, red ginger lily, torch lily, wild ginger, combrang, bunga kantan, Philippine wax flower, 火炬姜 (pinyin: Huǒjù jiāng). Refer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etlingera_elatior.
It is one of the toughest ingredients to get overseas. In south east Asia, this torch ginger flower is one of the many important ingredients used for Assam Laksa and kerabu (Nyonya salad), and I would say the “soul” of many Nyonya Assam dishes.
The aroma and flavour of the ginger flower are like a cross between a Vietnamese mint and lemongrass. The flower is quite waxy from the outside; however, when you cut the flower in half, that’s where the aroma and fragrance of the torch ginger filters through.
How to use Bunga Kantan/Ginger Flower?
Bunga kantan/ginger flower is an everyday ingredient that you will find in any nyonya kitchen. We use it in Assam curries like Assam Laksa, Nyonya Assam and it can be eaten raw in kerabu (salad). It is also an important ingredient in nasi ulam – a special and distinct Nyonya rice salad made up with herbs. All you have to do is slice it finely and add to the salad; it will really bring the salad up a “punch” – seriously!
For this product, we MILDLY cooked the kantan in oil to preserve the texture as well as the aroma of the flower.
Note: The kantan has a shelve life of 12 months. Unlike the pastes – which has 2 years. If it is not opened, you can leave on the shelve and it is perfectly fine. However once it is opened, you will need to freeze the portion that you are not going to use. Only keep the portion that you are using in the fridge but no more than 2 weeks, otherwise it will go mouldy.
Check out the video below: