Archive for Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What do I do with … lemongrass?

When prepared, lemongrass stalks look a bit like bamboo. Use just the innermost portion of the stalk to flavor stir-fries, soups and other dishes.

When prepared, lemongrass stalks look a bit like bamboo. Use just the innermost portion of the stalk to flavor stir-fries, soups and other dishes.

June 28, 2011



What it is: Closely related to citronella (yep, as in the mosquito repellent), lemongrass is an herb widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine — especially Vietnam and Thailand — and Latin America.

To use: Before using, smash stalks with the side of a heavy knife to release its fragrant oils. Because of its toughness, lemongrass is usually added to recipes whole and the discarded before serving. The inner stalk can be eaten if finely chopped.

Season: Available year-round at Asian markets and grocery stores.

Nutrition: One ounce has 28 calories, 1 gram of protein, and 13 percent of your daily iron according to

How to store: For fresh lemongrass, wrap the stalks tightly in foil or plastic wrap and store up to 2 weeks in the fridge, according to Aliza Green’s “Field Guide to Herbs & Spices.” Fresh lemongrass can also be dried or frozen.

— Sarah Henning

What do I do with ...?

Got a food the intimidates you? We’d love to hear what foods you’d like to know more about. E-mail Sarah Henning at

Next food up? Frying peppers

Its fragrance is unmistakable to any Thai food lover, but what is lemongrass really?

Does it look like grass?

Are there actual lemons involved?

Wait, lemons grow on trees. And it’s not a tree.

So many questions and most have to do with the herb’s unusual name.

Yes, lemongrass is a grass, but it’s much more likely that it’ll find it’s way to a pot (planting or cooking) than your lawn.

Also, there are no actual lemons involved here, just a citrus-y fragrance.

And, generally, you don’t actually eat the grassy portion. Rather, you eat the white, woody lemongrass stalk. And most of the time you don’t actually consume that either — the stalks are often added to dishes and then removed before eating, so that they impart flavor but don’t ruin the texture with their woody nature.

To use lemongrass, peel it and discard the grassy leaves. Trim the ends and use only the innermost part of the stalk — usually between 4 to 6 inches of stalk. Stalks that are pale and green are fresh, overly woody or shriveled ones should be avoided.

And for those of you with a green thumb, you can grow lemongrass as an annual in Northeast Kansas. If you plan on doing that, know that sometimes lemongrass’s nearly identical cousin, citronella, is sold as lemongrass. (My personal lemongrass plant is actually citronella, I now know). The only visible difference: lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) has stalks and roots are white, while citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) has stalks that are red. You probably won’t get sick if you use citronella for culinary purposes, but lemongrass is much preferred for cooking. Citronella is better used for its mosquito-repelling oil.


Hot and Sour Soup with Lemongrass

4 dried black mushrooms

1 dried wood ear mushrooms

1/4 pound chicken boneless and skinless

1 stalk lemongrass (bottom 6 inches only) crushed

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 package tofu (firm) drained

5 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup carrots julienned

1/4 cup bamboo shoots julienned

1/2 cup rice vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon chile sauce

3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Soak mushrooms in warm water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain. Trim and discard stems. Thinly slice caps.

Cut chicken into thin slices then cut slices into thin strips. Place in a bowl and add 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Stir to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.

Place broth in a 2-quart pot and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms, lemongrass and ginger. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard lemongrass and ginger.

Add chicken, tofu, carrots and bamboo shoots. Cook for 2 minutes. Add vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce; bring to a boil.

Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until soup boils and thickens. Turn off heat. Add egg white, stirring, until it forms long threads. Serves 4 to 6.

— Recipe from

Lemongrass Steamed Barramundi

3 stalks lemongrass

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

3/4 pound barramundi fillet. Cut into 4 pieces

6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps thinly sliced

4 green onions, white and light green parts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced

Peel back tough green husks from 1 stalk lemongrass. Finely grate enough of the tender core to equal 1/2 teaspoon. Place in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar, soy sauce and water. Set aside.

Chop all remaining lemongrass (including husks) into 2-inch pieces and place in the bottom of a steaming pot. Add enough water to come just below the bottom of the steaming rack. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Uncover pot, place barramundi on rack and sprinkle with mushrooms, green onions, ginger and shallot. Cover and steam just until fish is opaque and flakes when tested with a fork, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer fish and vegetables to plates. Drizzle with vinegar mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

— Recipe from

Green Onion and Lemongrass Rice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2/3 cups onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup white rice, long grain

1 3/4 cups water

2 stalks lemongrass (12 inches), each cut into 2-inch long pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large green onions, chopped

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 2/3 cup onion and turmeric and sauté 5 minutes. Mix in rice. Add water, lemongrass and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Discard lemongrass.

Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add green onion and sauté 1 minute. Add rice and stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt.

— Recipe from

Lemongrass Seafood Curry

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 to 2 tablespoons green curry paste

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

1/2 pound scallops

1 (1/2-pound) grouper fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 cup basil leaves

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups steamed jasmine rice

Mix together the coconut milk and green curry paste and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp, scallops and grouper and cook, turning occasionally, for several minutes. Add bell peppers and cook, tossing often, for 30 seconds. Add reserved coconut milk mixture, basil, fish sauce and lemongrass. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove and discard lemongrass, then serve curry over rice.

— Recipe from

Fragrant Beef Casserole with Green Onions

1 pound beef chuck (boneless) cut into 1 inch cubes

1 small daikon radish (about 1 pound)

2 quarter-sized pieces dried tangerine peel or zest of 4 tangerines

1 cinnamon stick

1 lemongrass (1 inch piece) sliced

1/2 teaspoon sichuan peppercorn, toasted

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 ginger root sliced thin

1 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 green onions including tops, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Asian noodles, cooked

Sprigs parsley for garnish


1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add beef and stir to coat. Set aside.

Peel daikon radish and cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half diagonally into 1 inch pieces.

Wrap tangerine peel, cinnamon stick, lemon grass, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.

Place a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat surface. Add ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 seconds. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes or until browned. Add broth, soy sauce, and cheesecloth bundle. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add daikon radish, cover and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until beef and radish are tender. Add green onions and cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens slightly. Discard bundle.

Serve over hot cooked noodles, garnished with parsley sprigs.

— Recipe from

Grilled Shrimp on Lemongrass Skewers

4 stalks fresh lemongrass

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup tamari

1 1/2 pounds (about 24) jumbo shrimp, peeled, tails left on

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Peel any dry, brownish leaves from lemongrass, then cut each stalk in half lengthwise to form eight skewers. Soak them in cold water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, oil and tamari together in a small bowl to make a marinade. Skewer 3 shrimp on each stalk of lemongrass. (You may need to pierce shrimp with a paring knife first to help in sliding them onto the lemongrass stalks.) Lay stalks flat in a non-reactive dish and pour marinade over top, turning skewers to coat the shrimp. Set aside to let marinate for 20 minutes. Grill skewered shrimp over hot coals or on an indoor grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until shrimp are just pink and slightly firm. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using, and serve.

— Recipe from


stargazer66025 6 years, 12 months ago

Lemongrass leaves and stalks are excellent for using in insect repellent sachets. Dry it and add to the other dried bug repelling herbs (basil, thyme, mint, penny royal,etc.) that you've grown and fill sachets made from unbleached muslin. Put in corners, drawers, the basement , window sills. No chemicals to inhale,and it works!

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