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15 Mar 2007

A Grass to Eat - Lemongrass


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
sesame seeds
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
From IVU-EastAsia
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.

27 comments:

KleoPatra said...

Oooooh, lemongrass. I LOVE THAT SCENT! There is a great bath 'n' body stuff store in Northern California that i've been to a couple of times, called BUBBLES, and they have myriad bottles of scented essential oils that they mix into their unscented lotions and you can buy it by the ounce with whatever scent you like and wow, it's AMAZING. The lemongrass is my absolute FAVORITE!!

Growing it myself... i like that idea.

And Jackie, i'm sorry i didn't realize 'twas your b'day last week. I did not know you were also a Pisces, or if you told me before, i forgot. Sorry.

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All the best to you. May your days ahead be sweet and sunny and your nights be safe and relaxing.

aTxVegn said...

I just used lemongrass last night. It does smell wonderful. Thank you for the tip on growing it yourself - sounds so easy, but I never get anything to grow.

Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said...

I just thought about trying to grow lemongrass this summer. I've had luck with lots of other herbs and such...

Thanks for the great info!

Love the blog!

Alisa said...

Oh yes, happy birthday Jackie! I liked your Al Gore post from earlier in the week as well.

If you happen to come across a recipe for Vietnamese Satay using lemongrass, I would love to find one. I became addicted to that dish, and later found out the key ingredient was lemongrass, something I had never had before. Since we no longer live anywhere near that restaurant, I am dying to make it at home, but haven't found a recipe.

Thank you for reminding me of lemongrass!

Jackie said...

Vegetarian Satay Sauce you might like at:
http://www.cooking.com/recipes/static/recipe1608.htm

Emmy said...

Oh my gosh, growing my own lemongrass sounds like such a neat idea :) I love lemongrass and that Thai Red Curry Paste recipe sounds wonderful.

Urban Vegan said...

I never knew you could freeze lemongrass! That is a fabulous tip. I love its gentle cirtus scent.

HAPPY BIRRTHDAY, fellow Piscean. All the best!

Fran said...

Must try growing it like you've described, Jackie. When I don't have any for a recipe I'm making, I substitute lime and/or lemon juice, but it's just not the same flavor.

Thanks a bunch for posting more great ideas and Happy Birthday!

Fran

Melody said...

Thanks for all of this info! I am going to try growing my lemongrass! I will probably have to get another bunch with a bulb intact.. how exciting!

laura jesser said...

I've recently got interested in Thai cuisine, and thus in lemongrass. If I can find it somewhere, I am definitely going to try growing my own--thanks for the tip.

Hobby Cooking said...

Very Nice Blog

Do visit Me for more recipes,

http://hobbycooking.blogspot.com/oo

Alisa said...

Thanks for the satay sauce link Jackie, that recipe sounds incredible. Now..if I can only track down some lemongrass (no garden here!).

BTW, for those of you like me who love the scent of lemon grass and the mild flavor, Good Earth makes a white tea that is lightly flavored with lemongrass. I am addicted, it is heavenly! Even my husband loves it. Just thought of that : )

Midwest Vegan said...

Happy belated birthday! I hope it was a happy one. It seems like there are a lot of Pisces bloggers (at least vegan ones).

I've seen lemongrass in recipes but I've never really known what it was or how to use it so I've always left it out. Thanks for the info.

The Vegan Chick said...

I love lemongrass, I just burned a few sticks of lemongrass incense a while ago. It smells so fresh and tangy. And happy belated birthday! We both have the same birthmonth, mine's the 3rd!

The GateKeeper said...

We're doing Satay next week-end and pulling up some lemon grass from the garden for that sauce.

And yeah, happy belated birthday to you....

Marion said...

Happy Belated Birthday to you, Jackie!

I've tried growing Lemongrass outside and unfortunately had little luck...it just rotted in the wet.

I never had any idea it would grow on a windowsill! We have a good source here, with very fresh Lemongrass...I'm going to try and grow some. It is one of my favourite flavourings!

bazu said...

Happy belated birthday! I love how many of us are born in March. =)
I love lemongrass- I want to follow your tip and try growing some myself.

vko said...

Happy Belated Birthday!

Love the post on the lemongrass- I lovve it so much, I can smell it as I read your post.

Wish I could grow it in my tiny NYC apt...

Johanna3 said...

great info, thanks!

Johanna3 said...

Happy Belated Birthday!

Candi said...

Oh wow! I love the info on lemongrass! I never really knew how to cook with it, so I clicked on the link that walks you through it! Thanks for posting that!

The recipes look really great, even the satay one you posted here in the comments section!

Birthday?! Oooh, happy birthday, Jackie!!!

Jackie said...

Thanks Everyone for your birthday wishes and hope I never missed any of my Pisces readers birthdays as there seem to be so many of us who are Vegan or vegetarian :)

Allen of EOL said...

Hey Jackie -- thanks for stopping by my site (I also noticed that we're going head to head right now in battle of the blogs!).

You've inspired me to try growing lemongrass -- I'm about to plant my small garden this weekend. I love thai curry and the flavor lemongrass adds to it. I've found that the tube kind can taste a little bit like a cleaning product (at least the brand my store started to carry) and the dried version to be void of the true flavor. Fresh is best if you can find it. :-)


All the best!

Jackie said...

Yes most tubes of this and that tend to taste awful and have tons of additives as well so I try to stick to fresh, frozen or dried if I can.

Wind said...

I really love Thai food and always want more of it. I tried to use lemongrass to make Malaysian Curry before but I found that it was too hard to cut...

By the way, thanks for visiting my site the other day. Just wonder, what sort of thing you would use instead of cream in the soup?

Jackie said...

There are a few non dairy creams on the market or you could make a nut cream or use soy yogurt.

Naomi said...

Happy belated birthday Jackie! Hope you had a good one. I've always loved the scent of lemongrass. I also have a particular interest as I love Chinese and Thai food which uses it a lot in recipes.