Lemon Grass

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Question:

Do you have any ideas or any recipes for use with lemon grass?  I have eaten lemon grass in a Thai restaurant before and love its subtle lemony flavor.  I just purchased a bunch from a local farmer’s market here in California and now that I have it,  I don’t have a CLUE what to do with it.  I was thinking about doing something with chicken.  Please help if you can.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! – Kim (9/27/00)

 

Answers:

Lemon GrassLemon Grass gives a lemon flavor to many dishes without overpowering them, and it will not turn bitter with long cooking.  The tender inner core is chopped, like scallions, and used in Oriental dishes and seafood.  The tough outer parts can be used to flavor soups and teas, or dried for use in potpourri.

Select lemongrass by looking for a firm stalk with leaves that appear fresh.  If leaves are dried out, there won’t be much flavor.

Prepare lemongrass by peeling off and discarding one or two layers of the woody exterior leaves.  Use only the lower 5-inch of the stalk.  Thinly slice the lemongrass, then crush or mince it to use in recipes.  The actual BLADES of Lemon Grass are very tough (great for tea and pot pourri), but not so good for chopping and tossing into things you’re going to eat.  Use the tender white inner hearts.  Add the outer blades to vegetables and fish is a good way to use the rest of the plant.  Using it this way is the same as using bay leaves – great for flavor and accent, but tough to actually eat.  They definitely need to be taken out before serving.

Lemon grass is also a terrific way to get rid of the ‘fishy’ taste and smell that some people find objectionable.  Tie several blades together with some cooking twine (sometimes adding rosemary), then lay it across the fish.  It adds a nice visual when serving, too.

Another trick, when I want to use the tough blades but don’t want to puncture my tongue: stick them in a coffee grinder.  My Krups grinder is my herb garden’s best friend.  All sorts of things go in it — parsley, basil leaves, lemongrass.  I even use it to chop my nuts and lemon zest.  It really gets the lemongrass blades into small enough pieces, pulverized sufficiently, that you won’t be picking them out of your mouth while you eat.

Another trick is to use the tough blades by putting them in a coffee grinder.

Store lemongrass by placing in a plastic bag and keeping in your refrigerator’s vegetable bin.

 

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