Lemongrass, also called barbed wire grass, Cymbopogon, silky heads, fever grass, and Malabar grass, is a plant that is used in the food and medicine industries due to its great taste and health benefits.
This culinary herb is derived from the stalk of the lemongrass plant and is known for its lemony scent. While it’s mostly used in Thai cooking, you will also find lemongrass in many Indian, Sri Lankan, and Indonesian dishes.
Lemongrass has a unique taste like a cross between fresh ginger root and lemon peel. You will also find hints of mint and floral notes in fresh lemongrass, which is why it is often used in tea in place of lemons.
Dried Lemongrass vs Fresh Lemongrass
Most chefs prefer fresh lemongrass as it offers a strong mix of bright and complex flavors. Fresh lemongrass is typically used in stir-fries or salads. Whereas, dried lemongrass, which is known for its woodsy flavor, is typically used in long-simmered soups and stews.
Cooking with Lemongrass
If you’re using fresh lemongrass, first remove the outer leaves and then cut off and discard the lower bulb. Typically, the main yellow interior stalk is used for cooking. You can cut the stalk into several small parts or bruise it with a knife to release its flavor. These bruised stalks can be added during the cooking process and removed before serving. However, if you intend to serve the lemongrass in the finished dish, it is best to very finely chop it so that it softens sufficiently. A food processor will break up the lemongrass quickly and easily.
Dried lemongrass should be added during the cooking process when your dish has enough liquid for lemongrass to rehydrate. Again, it’s best to remove the pieces of dried lemongrass before serving.
You can also store good-quality fresh lemongrass in the refrigerator. It will remain fresh for about two weeks. However, make sure to wrap it well. If you don’t plan to use your fresh lemongrass within two weeks, you can freeze lemongrass without any textural issues, but it may lose some of its freshness and aroma. When storing lemongrass for a long period of time, consider placing dried stalks into pots of soil. The stalks will begin to sprout within a week or so.
Recipes with Lemongrass
Thai Coconut Chicken Curry
Lemongrass Chicken Bowl