Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), a native of India, is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. Lemongrass 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. Lemongrass is also used for medicinal purposes. Lemongrass (read more).
If you don't have lemongrass there are a few suitable alternatives:
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A mixture lemon grass, makrut lime leaves, galangal, garlic, onion, turmeric and fish sauce. This flavored paste can be substituted for fresh lemongrass at a rate of two teaspoons of paste per two stalks of lemongrass called for in your recipe.
The term lemongrass puree typically pertains to lemongrass pureed and frozen and typically contains some citric acid as a preservative. Some purees are combine with oil as an emulsifier. You can substitute 1 tablespoon puree for 1 tablespoon fresh chopped lemongrass.