EDIBLE ROOTS: The edible yellow rhizomes are strongly aromatic, especially when freshly harvested, and have a spicy flavor. The Thai Food and Travel blog writes, it has "its own distinctive piquant flavor and tangy fragrance that cannot be mistaken with other members of the ginger family to which it belongs."  Used throughout southeast Asia & China, Krachai is mainly cultivated in Thailand and Indonesia [especially Java]. It is commonly grown in small-scale, subsistence farming systems in Malaysia, Indochina, Cambodia & India.
As a strong, spicy flavoring in Asian cooking. The roots are used for the spicy flavor they give to savory dishes, including soups (often vegetable soup), stews, sambals, fish dishes and curries. Young rhizomes are cooked as a vegetable. The rhizomes are also eaten raw (chopped into salads). Both the rhizomes & the hearts of the stems are eaten raw as a side dish with rice.
- FRESH, AS OPPOSED TO PICKLED, DRIED, OR POWDERED: The Thai Food and Travel blog writes [and I strongly agree], "The frozen roots yield far better results [than the pickled ones sold in glass jars at many Asian groceries] that come closest to fresh and should be used whenever possible. I prefer to do without rather than use the dried or powdered forms." 
- CAUTION: Some Asian markets label these rhizomes as "Galangal," which is not correct. Galangal usually refers, properly, to Alpinia Galanga, the true Galangal [see my plant profile on this plant for comparison, if you like.]
- IN CAMBODIA: "It is used in some kroeung pastes of Cambodian cuisine." 
- IN THAILAND: It is well known in Thai cooking, where it is known as Krachai. There, they often pickle the roots.
- PREPARATION: Some folks scrape the skin off of the roots, while most that I know of simply wash them thoroughly.
- HARVEST: You can dig up the clump, break off the fingers for eating, and replant the main, stubby, top rhizome.
- STORAGE: The well cleaned, or scraped, roots may befrozen for future use in cooked dishes. 
EDIBLE YOUNG LEAVES, YOUNG SHOOTS AND STEM HEARTS: These parts are also eaten. Young leaves & shoots, along with the rhizomes, are cut finely, mixed with coconut and spices, wrapped in a banana leaf, and steamed.
MEDICINAL ROOTS: They are used to reduce flatulence and to treat diarrhea, dysentery and worms.
MEDICINAL LEAVES: In Thailand, the leaves are regarded as an antidote to certain poisons.
EXTERNAL USES: Crushed rhizomes & roots are applied to treat rheumatism.
: “Young leaves and shoots, usually along with the rhizome, are cut finely, mixed with coconut and spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.” - Cornucopia
: “It’s really lovely pickled in vinegar and then added to salads.” 
---------- BRINE-PICKLED KRACHAI FROM EDIBLY ASIAN
"Brine pickling is very straight forward. It's simply a process of submerging the rhizome in a brine solution. There is no need to enhance the brine with spices as the flavour is quite definite and the root isn't used as a single ingredient for eating. INGREDIENTS
Salt, 1½ Tbsp
Hot water, 500 ml (2 cups)
Add the salt in the hot water and when dissolved then make up the final volume to 1 litre.
Wash the Finger-root very well. There's no need to peel this but separate the fingers from the body if you prefer.
Place the Finger-root into a litre mason (~1 qt) or jar and pour the pickling brine into the jar with enough to immerse the finger-root completely.
Weight the tops of the rhizome so that it is all below the liquid level.
Cover the top of the jar with clean cheesecloth and secure this with a rubber band.
Allow to steep and pickle for a week minimum at room temperature 20ºC( ~70F). If keeping the finger-root in the jar, then replace the cloth cover with a solid cap and make sure that the root is completely submerged to prevent mold growth.
Store in a pantry or refrigerated."
IN SEAFOOD DISHES: The Thai Food and Travel blog writes: "Because its exuberant, aromatic quality freshens the taste of seafood, it is used primarily in seafood dishes. The fingers are cut into fine slivers and tossed along with other fragrant herbs into hot-and-spicy seafood stir-fries, curries and incendiary soups." 
IN SAMBALS: Fresh, chopped Krachai rhizomes are added to sambals in Asia.
“Sambal is sauce typically made from a variety of chili peppers and secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars.
Various recipes of sambals usually are served as hot and spicy condiments for dishes such as:
Ikanbakar (grilled fish)
Ikangoreng (fried fish)
Ayamgoreng (fried chicken)
Sambal is a Malay loan-word of Javanese origin (sambel).”
NATIVE TO: "Cambodia; China (Yunnan), Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Thailand."  IUCN writes, "its precise natural range is uncertain."  Now wild in Southern Yunnan Province, southern China, and Malaysia.
HABITAT: It grows wild in dense forests.
DESCRIPTION: An herbaceous, almost stemless perennial, 12-30 inches tall. Some sources list it as an evergreen, but mine always dies down each winter here in central Florida.
- FLOWERS: Slightly fragrant, pink, tubular, appear at ground level. Pretty, usually hidden by the large, upright leaves.
- LEAVES: Usually 3-4 ovate-oblong leaves, up to 5 inches wide.
- RHIZOMES: Yellow, finger-shaped rhizomes, strongly aromatic when harvested. The Thai Food and Travel blog writes, "This root is comprised of a cluster of long, slender, orangish brown fingers joined to an insignificant, knobby ginger-like rhizome." 
- HARDINESS: Ecocrop writes: "new growth can be severely damaged at" -1C [10F], "mature plants can be killed" at -10C [10F].  Expert grower David Skinner, of Gingers R Us Nursery, writes, "I have been growing it for many years in my Tallahassee zone 8-B garden with no problems at all. It goes dormant naturally like Curcumas and Kaempferias, and the rhizomes can be lifted in winter if you are in a colder area." 
- LIGHT: Best in partial shade. Ecocrop writes that it can be grown in full sun "in moist soil." 
- SOIL: It requires well-drained soil. It prefers rich, moist soil. Ecocrop writes: "Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 7.5." 
- DORMANCY: Goes dormant during the winter.
- PROPAGATION: By division.
- GROUNDCOVER: David Skinner, of Gingers R Us Nursery near Tallahassee writes, "As an ornamental, it is not spectacular, but it does increase well and makes an attractive groundcover for shady areas." 
- NOTE: Cold, wet weather may rot the rhizomes. It does not set seed that comes true.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Sometimes confused with Lesser Galangal, Alpinia officinarum.
Rate of GrowthModerate
Ease of growth
Sources for acquiring
Gingers R Us
 Randy’s Tropicals
 Byron Herbs
 Jeff Heriot
 Gingers R Us Nursery
 Useful Tropical Plants
 Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
 Flora of China
 Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
 Mansfeld'sDatabase of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
 Tropical Food Gardens
 Dictionary of Economic Plants
 The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening, 1992
 Thai Food and Travel blog