Lemongrass, an aromatic grass from the Tropics, has become extremely popular in the West over the last 30 years both for its wonderfully fresh, uplifting, perfume in health and beauty products but also for it's unique lemony taste in Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and other recipes.
See my Herbs 'n Oils blog for the health and beauty facts about Lemongrass Essential Oil.
It is and excellent source of iron, potassium and manganese and a good source of folic acid, magnesium, zinc and copper.
Lemongrass should be used sparingly in food dishes due to it's strong flavor. The whole stalk can be used, either sliced or minced. It is often used and blends well with other aromatic herbs like chilies, garlic and cilantro.
For how to prepare and cook fresh lemongrass see an excellent, step by step article at About.com
Fresh lemongrass is usually available in most supermarkets but if unavailable can be purchased frozen, bottled or dried. When fresh it can be stored for a couple of weeks in the fridge and also freezes well.
Being a natural antibacterial and digestive aid adds to why it is a wonderful addition to any meal. Plus on those hot Summer evenings keep away those small flying insects with lemongrass essential oil in your burner and enjoy your meal in peace.
Why not plant lemongrass yourself ? If you have a stalk with a decent undamaged bulb, pop in a glass jar, in water, on a sunny windowsill. Once roots start growing put in a pot of sandy soil on the same sunny windowsill. Keep moist. After a while you should have a clump of stalks growing and can pick one to use whenever required.
Veggie Pad Thai
From Happy Cow's Vegetarian Guide
½ firm tofu package, cubed
1 cup mixed raw vegetables, chopped
½ cup bean sprouts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chili, crushed
½ onion, sliced
½ carrot, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, sliced thin
5 lime leaves, whole
4 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsps oil
handful of noodles, glass or rice
peanuts ground to bits
Place oil in heated wok. Add garlic, chili, onion, carrot, tomato, and tofu. Stir fry. Add mixed vegetables, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Stir fry. Add soy sauce and sugar to taste. Stir fry. Add noodles. Stir fry. Add bean sprouts. Add a little water if needed. Add ground peanuts. Serve on plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds and peanut bits. Serves 2
Thai Red Curry Paste
Contributed by: Kate Pugh
I like this better than the ones that come in jars. This recipe is adapted from one in the BBC Vegetarian Good Food magazine.The original recipe used 8 large dried red chillies - I use fresh ones instead. 2 medium chillies gives a medium-hot paste; sometimes I even use more, and I'm not a big fan of over-hot food. Makes 1/2 cup.
2 or more fresh red chillies, deseeded
5 garlic cloves
2 stalks fresh lemongrass
bottom stems from a large bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro) (original recipe used 3 coriander (cilantro) roots)
1 x 1-inch cube fresh ginger or galangal
1 large shallot or equivalent onion
peel of 1 lime (original used 1 tbsp chopped Kaffir lime peel)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp white or black peppercorns
Chop the chillies, garlic, lemongrass, coriander stems, ginger and shallot or onion. Prepare the lime peel by removing as much of the white pith as possible (lay it outside down and slice the pith off with a sharp knife held horizontally) and then chopping. Place all ingredients in the blender and whizz to a fairly smooth paste. The raw ingredients come to about 1 cup, so it's enough to put in most small blenders. Store in a screw-topped jar in the fridge - I've kept it for a week or more.
Chilled Broad Bean and Lemongrass Soup
From Vegan Food posted by Mr Falafel
4 tbsps margarine
1 onion, chopped
1 large leek, roughly chopped
3 stalks lemongrass, inner part chopped
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped root ginger
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 cups broad beans, shelled
2 1/2 cups soy milk
Pinch of sugaralt and freshly ground black pepper
4 mint leaves, finely chopped
Heat the margarine in a saucepan and add the onion and leek. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the lemongrass and ginger and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the stock and broad beans. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor and whizz until you have a puree. Sieve if you wish. Add the soymilk,
season to taste and add the sugar. Serve well chilled, sprinkled with finely chopped mint.