In this post, you will learn how to cook with lemongrass. Also, you will learn how to select and prepare lemongrass so you can use it to add a nice bright flavor to any meal.
You've recently purchased lemongrass and don't quite know how to work with it. Don't worry, it’s not as daunting as it seems. Preparing lemongrass for cooking is actually quite simple. And today, you will learn how to cook with lemongrass in easy steps.
Here's a great recipe to try: Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Stir Fry
What is Lemongrass
Lemongrass, aka lemon grass or citronella is a tall, stalky perennial grass. It has a fresh, lemony aroma and a citrus flavor. It's often used fresh or dried to make medicine or as a fragrance in beauty products.
Lemongrass is a versatile herb and a staple ingredient used in many Asian recipes to add a lemony flavor to any dish, such as in curries, soups, and stir fries.
Where to Buy Lemongrass
You can easily find fresh or frozen lemongrass in most Asian grocers and larger markets like Ralph's/Kroger or Walmart super center.
Fresh lemongrass is usually located in the fresh produce area, sold in bundles of two or three stalks, about one-two feet in length. They’re usually priced at $1.99 - $3.99 per pound.
How to Choose Lemongrass
When buying fresh lemongrass at the market, always choose stalks that look fresh, firm, heavy and thick, unblemished, and smell fragrant. The stalks should have pale yellow to bright green stems and tops.
Make sure to avoid stalks that are bruised, dry, brown, flaky, and light in weight. These are great indicators of old and dried-up lemongrass. Survival of the freshest!
How to Prepare Lemongrass
Once you've purchased the lemongrass, it's time to prepare the stalks. So, here are some basic steps you need to follow before slicing, mincing, or bruising the lemongrass stalks for cooking.
Step 1. Trim the Lower Part of Lemongrass
Use a sharp kitchen knife to carefully cut about two inches off the bottom. The lowest portion of the base of a lemongrass stalk is tough and flavorless.
Step 2. Trim the Upper Part of Lemongrass
The upper part of lemongrass is woody and in darker green color. You want to cut about 6-8 inches of the upper part. You can discard or keep it to use another time as indicated below.
Please note, some grocery stores probably already have removed the green tops. If it is the case for you, skip this step.
Step 3. Peel Away the Tough Outer Layers
Use your fingers to find the tough outer leaves and remove them (usually around 1-3 layers per stalk).
The pale yellow stalk underneath the tough outer leaves is softer and edible for cooking. You can slice, grind, bruise, or mince them.
Again, don't throw away the tough outer layers. You can save them and keep in the fridge or freezer to use them for other purposes, such as to infuse tea, soup, or curry.
How to Cook with Lemongrass:
Now, you’re ready to cook with your lemongrass. Depending on what the recipe calls for, you can chop, slice, grind, dice, bruise, mince the softer layers of lemongrass stalks using a sharp kitchen knife, food processor, or mortar and pestle.
How to Use Lemongrass in stir fry, paste, sauce, marinade, and dressing
For these purposes you can mince, grate, or finely dice the paler and tender portion of the lemongrass stalk with a sharp knife, a blender, or a food processor.
Also, remember that you'll be eating the lemongrass. For that reason, make sure you don't have any tough, dry, or papery layers.
How to Use Lemongrass Lemongrass in curry, soup, stew, or simmered sauce
In this case, you just want to infuse the liquid or broth with lemongrass flavor.
You can use the whole lemongrass stalk from the top to the bottom or trim them as mentioned above if you like. Just make sure to remove the stalks before serving.
And here's how:
- First, you need to cut the trimmed or whole stalks into shorter pieces.
- After that, bruise or smash them with a meat pounder, mortar and pestle, or a mallet.
- Next, tie the bruised stalk in a bow then add into the soup, stew, or simmered sauce.
- Remove the stalks before you serve your final dish.
How to Store Fresh Lemongrass:
You can wrap the fresh lemongrass stalks in plastic wrap or store the leftover in an airtight container or plastic bag to keep more fresh. Properly stored, it can last up to 3 weeks in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer.
How to Cook with Lemongrass
- a sharp kitchen knife
- 1 lemongrass
- Use a sharp kitchen knife to carefully cut about two inches off the bottom then cut about 6-8 inches of the upper part.
- Use your fingers to find the tough outer leaves and remove them (usually around 1-3 layers per stalk).
- Depending on what the recipe calls for, you can chop, slice, grind, dice, bruise, mince the softer layers of lemongrass stalks using a sharp kitchen knife, food processor, or mortar and pestle.