Etlingera Elatior, the scientific name for TorchGinger Flower, or Bunga Kantan in Malay and 姜花 in Chinese, is a type of tropical flower commonly found in South East Asia. Its pink flower bud is particularly important to be used as a spice ingredient in Malay and Nyonya cuisine, with its distinctive, aromatic fragrance to zest up curry and seafood stews i.e. Tomyam and Laksa.Over here, we also call it Laksa flower (Bunga Laksa in Malay), since it is used in the famous Penang Nyonya Assam Laksa. In addition to Laksa, it is also widely used in Malay, Nyonya and Thai fruit salad i.e. Rojak or Kerabu.
We had this flower planted opposite our house by my late mother-in-law a year before she passed away in 2008. It took more than a year to flower. The leave stalks and flower stalks grow out from an underground stem and the flower plant can grow over 4 meters in height. It requires larger space and is not suitable to be planted in a pot. I didn’t place much attention on it and just let it grew wildly. When we were about to leave for NZ in mid 2009, we got to see it just started to flower.
|Taken in year 2009|
By the time we came back from NZ, we were surprised to see it still grew healthily and flowered so well.
|About 4 years old trees - April 2011|
|Flowers grew wildly|
|Harvest to use|
When I was in Auckland, instead of fresh buds we were lucky enough to be able to find frozen ginger flower buds from certain Asian grocery shops, as I knew many people could hardly find it in European countries and the US.
To use Bunga Kantan, we only take its bud and chuck the stalk.
|TorchGinger Flower, or Bunga Kantan|
|Few ways in using the buds in cooking:|
First slice bud into half or quarter and place into curry/gulai/tomyam
to cook to flavour the soup.
|Flower bud to add in curry, gulai or tomyam soup|
or you can also opt to finely shred the whole bud and use for garnishing or adding into Kerabu or fruit salad