Lemongrass is an herb that belongs to the grass family, it also has a lemony scent. The herb is produced from the stalk of the lemongrass plant (which is technically called Cymbopogon Citratus). It grows in many tropical climates but mostly thought of as an Asian plant. Lemongrass’ most notable association is with Thai cuisine but is also found in dishes from India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Lemongrass has long been used for a variety of purposes in many regions of the world and it has been applied to medicine, cosmetics, and cuisine. In countries such as India, China, and Thailand, it has been used as a flavoring agent in beverages, desserts, and other culinary preparations for its ability to promote better digestion, treat infections, boost circulation and immunity and for other wholistic purposes. Due to its ability to reduce fever, Lemongrass earned the name “fever grass” in some cultures.
It is famous for its citrus-like aroma and taste; therefore, it is added to many Southeast Asian dishes, herbal teas, and even cocktails. It can be found in different forms, from fresh to dried, and even as powder. Chances are you have heard of lemongrass and likely tasted it but have never seen it.
Our chefs use lemongrass for its delicious flavour by including it our marinades, sauces and broths. You will taste its distinct flavours our mouth-watering dishes such as BBQ meat vermicelli bowls and rice plates, curries, and Tom Yum Soups. Lemongrass in our kitchens is always used fresh for its complex blend of bright, floral, gingery, and minty flavours. Our chefs recommend testing your dish(es) first it dry because it will add a woodsy flavour profile that might not be suit your taste.
Cooking with Lemongrass
While using fresh lemongrass in cooking, always be sure to cut off the lower bulb and remove the tough outer leaves. The main stalk (the yellow section) is what is used in Thai cooking. You can cut the stalk into separate pieces and then bend the pieces multiple times to bruise them, which lets out the oils that contain that lemony flavour you are looking for. The trick that our chefs use is the blunt side of a cleaver to lightly pound the stalk, which bring out greater pungency. In addition, you can also cut along these sections with a knife, which will help with releasing more flavor. Adding the bruised stalks to a soup or curry will liven up the dish and give it a kick. Be sure to remove the lemongrass pieces before serving it to your guests!
If the lemongrass is meant to be eaten, the yellow section of the lemongrass stalk can be cut into thin slices with a sharp knife or finely mincing it. The latter can be done quickly by a food processor.
Dried lemongrass can be added during cooking when whichever dish being made has enough fluid make it rehydrate, which releases its flavor. Lemongrass is usually removed, or is strained, from dishes or beverages before serving. Though, its powdered form can be added at any point in cooking. serving.
Another reason to strain lemongrass is due to its fibrous and thready texture and appearance. It can be mistaken for hair if it is not chopped finely enough, which is a big turn off for your guests. When using lemongrass stalks in dishes, they need to be cooked thoroughly and if they are used in soups, they should be boiled for at least 5 to 10 minutes to soften properly.
Lemon or lime in may be substituted for lemongrass in a pinch, but unfortunately these fruits will not be able to fully replicate lemongrass’s particular flavor. One teaspoon of ground lemongrass powder can be a substitute for one stalk of fresh lemongrass.
Where to Buy Lemongrass
You will find fresh lemongrass at your local grocery store or Asian market. If you do not see any of it with the fresh produce, check the freezer section for lemongrass stalks as they can be sold in frozen packets. These frozen stalks are often ready-to-use, which save you the hassle from having to prepare them later.
Fresh lemongrass is mostly sold in groups of three to four stalks, which are attached together with an elastic band. These stalks are approximately 1 foot long, sometimes more. When buying lemongrass, be sure to look for firm stalks, not the ones that are soft or rubbery which are too old. The lower stalks should be pale yellow in color, while the upper stalks should be green. Pick another bundle if the lemongrass if the outer leaves are wilting or brown.
Growing Your Own Lemongrass
You can grow your own lemongrass by planting the stalks bulb down in a jar with one to two inches of water. Replace old water with new every couple of days until the lemongrass roots form. This will take about 2 weeks to a month. Once your lemongrass has developed roots around a half of an inch to 1 inch long, plant it in your garden or in a pot with lots of room and rich soil. Lemongrass thrives in sun and warm temperatures, so if you choose to keep it indoors as a houseplant, be sure to put it by a south-facing window. Lemongrass is a beautiful houseplant or ornamental garden plant that you can also use in your cooking.
To store fresh lemongrass, you should wrap it loosely and put it in the refrigerator. It should keep for a few weeks. You can also freeze the stalks or minced pieces by wrapping them up in 1-tablespoon portions for ease of use when cooking. If the lemongrass is dried or powdered, it should be stored in airtight containers away from light and heat.