Use of Lemongrass in the Kitchen

Diann Leo-Omine and Lisa Lin wrote this. Image and video by Lisa Lin

Though I was never exposed to it as a child, I've come to appreciate lemongrass as a result of my exposure to Vietnamese and Thai cooking. When I first learned how to use it, I was hesitant to incorporate lemongrass into my cooking. soups and curries Lemongrass's citrusy, herbaceous notes are subtle, but they elevate any dish it's added to.  

How to Cook With Lemongrass

TELL ME, LEMONGRASS, WHAT IS IT?

Fibrous and mildly citrusy, lemongrass is an interesting culinary ingredient. Lemongrass is a staple in the Southeast Asian and South Asian (Malaysian, Indian, etc.) kitchens, and I first encountered it in Vietnamese and Thai dishes. ) Planting lemongrass in the ground and letting the sun and soil do the work for most of the stalk's concealed below ground, with a top growth of long, narrow leaves In order to shorten the stalks and make them more manageable, these long leaves are often trimmed off before lemongrass makes it to our farmer's markets and grocery stores. Over a foot long stalks with only a few inches of sparse leaves at the top are all that remain of the lemongrass in the photo.

Lemongrass is a versatile ingredient that can be added to a wide variety of dishes. The lemongrass stalks are quite solid, which can be off-putting if you have never cooked with them before. To say the least, I was scared. You'll develop an instinct for when and how to use various lemongrass components. Here are some suggestions for using lemongrass in the kitchen.

Methods for Selecting the Finest Lemongrains

Finding fresh lemongrass stalks at a local farmer's market is your best bet. Fortunately, I can buy fresh lemongrass at the Asian farmers market in Sacramento, where many vendors sell bundles containing seven to ten stalks. Typically, the stems are lush and green, and the leaves remain unwilted.

Lemongrass Leaves

Once in a blue moon, I'll come across some untrimmed lemongrass stalks like the one pictured above. In some cases, the length of the delicate leaves can exceed 2 feet.  

Like ginger root and other Asian vegetables, lemongrass can be found in the refrigerator section of Asian grocery stores and regular supermarkets. Light green stalks are what you're looking for. Stalks should be green all the way to the top, not thinning and turning woody. They shouldn't be tainted with yellow or brown, as that suggests they've been sitting around for too long.

If you don't have much of a say in the matter at the grocery store, choose stalks that are still fairly full. Just remove the tough, dry skin and you'll have a perfectly good cooking ingredient.

LEMONGRASS COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

When I first used lemongrass in a recipe, I didn't understand why I was supposed to peel off "several" layers before using the "tender core" of the stalk. To get to the tender, pliable core of the lemongrass stalk, I assumed I'd have to peel back four or five layers. Because I was throwing away so much of the stalk, I didn't see the point. The more I used lemongrass in my cooking, the more I saw that peeling all those layers was unnecessary.

Prepared Lemongrass

A half-inch slice should be made off the bottom of the stalk to begin. This is usually where the lemongrass begins to brown or dry out Furthermore, the lemongrass leaves can be removed with less effort. Then, cut the top off of the stalk and discard the outer, thinner leaves. They still have some flavor, but it's not worth the trouble to me, so I usually just throw them away. However, If you want to learn how to make tea with lemongrass leaves, you can follow Andrea Nguyen's recipe.  

In addition, I appreciate Sharpen your knives like Andrea suggests. with a steel sharpening once the lemongrass has been chopped Cutting through lemongrass can cause dull knives due to the plant's toughness.

Then, remove the top layer or two of the stalk's skin. How many times you have to peel the lemongrass depends on how new it is. The lemongrass you see at the top of this post has had two layers peeled off of it. Stalks that aren't as fresh may require an additional layer or two of peeling. Due to its earthen cultivation, lemongrass frequently retains traces of soil. If there is visible dirt on the lemongrass, rinse it with water.  

Cut the stalk into 1- to 3-inch pieces for use in a soup or broth. Then, split the stalk open slightly by bashing it with a kitchen mallet or meat tenderizer. The oil is extracted from the stalks using this method. Because most of the time I use lemongrass in soups or jook (congee/rice porridge), this is how I usually cook it.

You can also make rings out of the stalk. Some Thai restaurants serve them sliced into thin rings, about 0.5 inches in diameter, in their soups. Slice them very thinly (almost paper thin) if you plan on using them in stir fries; this will make them much easier to chew. Lemongrass will have a tough, fibrous texture if not cooked properly.

I find that grating the lemongrass with a cheese grater is the best way to impart the flavor of lemongrass into a sauce or marinade. zester/grater microplane That way, the lemongrass can easily be mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, and the dish can be eaten with minimal effort. You should remember that the recipe dictates the method of preparation.  

PASTÉ DE LEMONGRASS

You can substitute lemongrass paste, such as that found in, if you can't locate any fresh lemongrass stalks. Gardening for the Gastronome You can find this paste in the chilled herb aisle, where it is typically packaged in a tube. Although the paste has a delicious taste, it is not suitable for vegans because it contains whey.   

COLD DIRECTIONS

After a few weeks, lemongrass will begin to go bad in the refrigerator. Freeze the lemongrass if you want to keep it for a longer period of time. Lemongrass must first be cleaned before it can be used. Cube them into 3-inch pieces. Then, place them in a freezer bag and use within a few months. For added protection against freezer burn, a vacuum sealer is ideal for closing the bag.

Vegetable Red Curry

LEMONGRASS RECIPE IDEAS

STEWS & DISHES

SALADS

STIR FRIES

  • Viet World Kitchen's Lemongrass Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry.
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If you've been curious about using lemongrass in your cooking but have been put off by the thought of preparing it, I have some good news: it' Detailed instructions for harvesting and cooking with lemongrass are provided below.
  • Remove the bottom half an inch or so of the stalk. Remove the delicate leaves by slicing the top of the stalk. They still have some flavor, but it's not worth the trouble to me, so I usually just throw them away.
  • Once you've removed the top layer or two of the stalk, you can continue. How many times you need to peel lemongrass depends on how new it is. Stalks that aren't as fresh may require an additional layer or two of peeling. Because of its earthen cultivation, lemongrass frequently retains some soil. Whenever dirt is clearly visible on the lemongrass, wash it with water.  
  • Slice the stalk into 3-inch sections if you're making a soup or broth and use it to make lemongrass batons. Then, split the stalk open slightly by bashing it with a kitchen mallet or meat tenderizer. The oil is extracted from the stalks using this method. This is my go-to method for preparing lemongrass, as most of my lemongrass recipes call for it to be used in soups or jook (congee/rice porridge).
  • Lemongrass can be sliced into paper-thin rings from the stalk. Some Thai restaurants serve them sliced into half-centimeter rings for soups, which is the thickness at which I have seen them served. Paper-thin slicing can make for easier eating of stir-fry vegetables, which is why you might want to do so if you plan to use them. Unless softened, lemongrass can have a tough, fibrous texture.
  • To infuse a sauce or marinade with lemongrass, grate some with a microplane zester/grater. The lemongrass will blend well with the other flavors, and the final product will be simple to prepare and enjoy. The method of cooking is dependant on the recipe, so keep that in mind.  
Instructions for Freezing: Prepare lemongrass by trimming, rinsing, and drying the stalks. Section them off at 3-inch intervals. Place in a freezer-safe bag and consume within a few months. To avoid freezer burn, a vacuum sealer is ideal for closing the bag.
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How to Cook with Lemongrass
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