lemongrass: image by szefei
Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), a native of India, is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.
Article by: Barbara Bowman
Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), a native of India, is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. Lemon grass is a perennial, which means once you plant it, the grass comes back year after year. Depending on the area you live in the plant will go dormant in the winter. In harsh climates the plant will need to be potted and wintered indoors. This aromatic herb is used in Caribbean and many types of Asian cooking and has become very popular in the United States. Most of the commercial crops for the United States are grown in California and Florida. Lemon grass is also used for medicinal purposes.
Other Names (from theepicentre.com)
Italian: erba di limone
Spanish: hierba de limon
Indian: bhustrina, sera
Indonesian: sere, sereh
Lao: bai mak nao
Photograph by GourmetSleuth.com
|This is a very pungent herb and is normally used in small amounts. The entire stalk of the grass can be used. The grass blade can be sliced very fine and added to soups. The bulb can be bruised and minced for use in a variety of recipes. (See recipes at the bottom of this page). |
The light lemon flavor of this grass blends well with garlic, chilies, and cilantro. The herb is frequently used in curries as well as in seafood soups. It is also used to make tea.
Lemon grass is available in ethnic markets such as Asian and Mexican. Select fresh looking stalks that don't look dry or brittle. Store fresh lemon grass in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to 3 weeks. You can also freeze it for about 6 months without any flavor loss.
In addition to fresh, lemon grass may be purchased dried or powdered. The dried product has to be soaked in hot water and reconstituted before use. The powdered variety is useful in teas and curries but it's not a good substitute for the fresh product. For best results in recipes use the fresh herb.
This grass is rich in a substance called citral, the active ingredient in lemon peel. This substance is said to aid in digestion as well as relieve spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches.
Lemon grass is also used commercially as the lemon scent in many products including soaps, perfumes and candles. A related plant, (Cymbopogon nardus) is the ingredient in citronella candles sold to ward off mosquitoes and other insects.
Lemon Grass Beef w/chili Bo Xao Xa Ot by Doug
2-3 pounds beef (or chicken)
4 cloves garlic
1 large yellow or white onion
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minced lemon grass
1 teaspoon ground chilies (to taste)
4 tablespoon fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)
2-3 spring (green) onion stalks
2-3 tablespoons coarsely ground peanuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons honey
Cut beef into small pieces (either "nuggets" or small strips).
Peel garlic and slice finely.
Cut onion into 1/2 inch strips.
Peel off the hard outer layers of lemon grass stalk and discard.
Peel off the medium layers of lemon grass stalk for stewing purposes
Mince the soft inner layers of the stalk.
Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat.
Add salt, garlic and onion.
Fry over medium heat until onion is opaque.
Add lemon grass and chili.
Fry 1 - 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add beef and cook until lightly browned.
Mix in fish sauce, sugar and honey.
Cook until beef is the way you like it.
Stir occasionally and add water if necessary.
Remove the medium layers of lemon grass stalk before serving
Serve over white rice. Garnish with peanuts and thin slices of spring onion stalk. I like mine with a Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce (Tuong Ot Toi Viet Nam: it's the best hot sauce EVER- I sometimes use it in the recipe instead of the garlic and pepper). (The above notes are provided by the recipe author)
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