Splendor in the (Lemon)grass

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.

sliced lemongrass

Lemongrass Stalks; Photo: hardlikearmor via Food 52

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!

lemongrass dish

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.

Spicy Tangy Tom Yum Goong

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.

Vodka infused withe lemongrass

Lemongrass Infused Vodka; Photo kennethalan via Dresses and Appetizers

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!

Posted in Culture, Food | Tagged , ,

2 Responses to Splendor in the (Lemon)grass

  1. Pingback: Cymbopogon citratus (Lemon Grass) with distinctive lemony aroma | John&Jacq~s Garden

  2. Jina Falkner says:

    Lemon oil may be used in aromatherapy. Researchers at The Ohio State University found that lemon oil aroma does not influence the human immune system, but may enhance mood.

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