It’s Foodie Tuesday!
If you read my post about yuzu, you know that I am a little obsessed with citrus and am always looking for new ingredients that boast this flavour profile. Chefs in Southeast Asia often turn to lemongrass to add a lemony aroma and taste to their dishes and I have been eager to follow their lead.
Lemongrass Plant; Photo: Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef
I usually buy lemongrass pre-minced in a tube at the grocery store but, as the name suggests, it is actually a species of grass. The plant is very attractive and although it is a tropical, adventurous North American gardeners can grow it if they treat it like an annual or bring it indoors before the frost.
I would love to have this rustling in the breeze on my rooftop patio, filling the air with its slightly flowery scent and, more importantly, I would love to have a constant supply of fresh stalks to use in my summer cooking!
Stuffed Lemongrass; Photo: Gourmet
The advantage of whole stalks is that they can be used as decorative skewers for appetizers like grilled shrimp or chicken: they are sturdy enough to survive a few minutes on the grill and impart a lovely flavour into the food.
Tom Yum Soup; Photo: About.com Thai Food
Lemongrass is especially common in Thai food; the fresh-tasting herb helps to balance out the chili heat of many meals. Traditionally it is used more in savory dishes like Lemongrass Chicken or Tom Yum Soup. Although less well-known, it is also used in other Asia cuisines.
Pan-Fried Tofu with Spicy Lemongrass Sauce; Photo: My Recipes
I am trying to eat less meat so I can’t wait to try the Vietnamese dish Tofu Nuong Xa (Pan-Fried Tofu with Spicy Lemongrass Sauce). In Cooking Light’s version, the sauce is almost like a savory jam that blends sweet, salty, and spicy flavours to wake up the bland tofu.
Lemongrass Frozen Yogurt with Basil; Photo: The Guardian
Lately Eastern and Western chefs have been experimenting with lemongrass in sweet dishes. I have never been one to turn down dessert and I think I would love the herbalicious tang of The Guardian’s Lemongrass Frozen Yogurt with Basil as a not-too-sweet ending to a summer meal.
Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Spicy Orange Caramel; Photo: 59 Kilos
If you can’t be bothered to pull out the ice cream maker, panna cotta is light custard that is a breeze to prepare. And 59 Kilos’ Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Spicy Orange Caramel manages to bring that traditional Asian spicy-sweet dichotomy to a thoroughly modern dessert.
Lemongrass Iced Tea; Photo: Matu Hotohori
Living in the South, I drink gallons and gallons of iced tea in the summer. Replacing the typical lemon garnish with lemongrass would make for a pleasant, if subtle, variation.
For those looking for libations that pack a little more of a punch, try infusing vodka with lemongrass stalks. It will not only serve as the base of a refreshing cocktail but it will also make a lovely decoration on your windowsill as it steeps.
If you are looking to add a little citrusy kick to your summer cooking, I encourage you to experiment with lemongrass!