Lemon grass lures with a pleasantly-stunning aroma, rather like sour lemon with an edge of ginger. In appearance, it is a grayish-green, tall thick grass composed of “woody” stalks similar to a green onion in build. The edible part is the “meaty” portion at the base above the root end, which is either smashed vigorously with a mallet or rolling pin, shattering its shape, so it becomes an herb bouquet. When it is used as an ingredient, it is minced finely and consumed.
This warm-weather loving perennial herb, first used in India, is consumed widely in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Once crushed, lemon grass oil is used in cooking, for many remedies, in beauty preparations and as a mosquito repellant (citronella).
As the name suggests, lemon grass has a citrus aroma and lemony flavor. It can be purchased dried, freeze-dried, powder form, in tubes or fresh. In some cultures this flavoring agent is called lemon grass, lemongrass, silky heads, citronella grass or barbed wire grass.
Fresh lemon grass stalks should not be brittle and light in weight. If it is in this condition, it is old and mostly flavorless. Make sure they are free of blemishes with a root section showing a whitish color. Some small stores keep their stems in a freezer.
Wrap stalks in plastic and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It lasts well for 5 months, if frozen.
GETTING TO THE LEMON GRASS FLAVOR:
Whole, to flavor and remove:
Cut away the upper part and concentrate on the fatter part of the stalk, usually about 5 inches to work with. Peel off the outer layerings exposing the “meatier” center. Because it is so highly fibrous, it is best to bruise the whole stalk when infusing, then remove and discard it after steeping or cooking.
Cut to cook and consume:
Skip the bruising step and thinly slice the bulb portion into tiny circles. Use them as you would chopped onion, this time, for a lemony accent.
TASTY DISHES AND COMPLIMENTARY COMBINATIONS
- Coconut milk
- Crème brulee/pudding
- Excellent aromatic
- Flavor vodka
- Fruit salad
- Homemade ice cream
- Pasta sauces
- Salad dressings
- Sausage ingredient
- Whipped cream flavoring
Below are foodsites and a video with recipes for lemon grass.