Ingredient Intelligence

Lemongrass: Infuse Dishes with Delicate Lemony Flavor

updated May 2, 2019
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Do you cook with lemongrass? Unless you do a lot of cooking from Asian cuisines, you may not have come across this particular ingredient before. I recommend seeking it out post haste! A few stalks of lemongrass will perfume your dishes with soft lemony flavor like none other.

Lemongrass grows in tall, individual stalks. Layers of tough green leaves surround a central bulb, similar to the way spring onions and scallions grow. It’s a tropical plant, and if you live in a warm climate, it’s actually very easy to grow it yourself!

You’ll see lemongrass used in a lot of Thai and Vietnamese recipes, though many other cuisines have adopted and adapted it for their own dishes. It’s mainly used as an herb to infuse dishes like curries, soups, and marinades with that delicate lemon flavor.

Only the bottom few inches of the bulb and stalk are typically used in cooking, though the less flavorful leaves can be made into a tea or tisane. To use lemongrass, you either bruise the stalk by pounding it or mince it into pieces before adding it to dishes. Because the plant is so tough, however, lemongrass is usually removed once the dish is infused. If you won’t be removing the lemongrass, finely grate it or grind it with a mortar and pestle to break down its tough fibers.

You’ll find lemongrass at any Asian grocery store, though many mainstream stores are also starting to carry it. Pick stalks that feels firm when you squeeze them and have a fresh aroma. Lemongrass will keep in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer for several weeks.

What are your favorite ways to use lemongrass?

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