Essential to Thai and Vietnamese cooking, lemon grass gives soups, stews and curries a subtle citrus-like flavor and aroma.
The citrus-like aroma of lemon grass comes from citral, an essential oil also found in lemon peel. The herb's thin, gray-green leaves and woody, scallion-like base add unique, subtle flavor to soups, sauces, marinades, curries and noodle dishes.
Lemon grass is also called citronella root and sereh.
Buying TipsLemon grass is available fresh or dried at Asian markets some supermarkets that stock specialty items. Look for firm, blemish-free, green stalks with white roots. The top of the stalk should be fresh to slightly dry in appearance, while the base should be somewhat heavy and moist.
Storage TipsWrap tightly in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Fresh lemon grass can also be frozen for up to six months.
Preparation TipsBefore using, cut off the root and about half of the upper stalk. Then remove the outer layers of the base to expose the tender inner heart. Slice, mince or crush as desired.
Usage TipsFresh and dried lemon grass can be finely chopped or crushed and mixed into your recipe. However, since it does not break up and disappear when cooked, you may wish to add it in larger strips or pieces instead. These can be easily removed from your dish and discarded before serving.
• Mince into small pieces and use as a seasoning for marinades and sauces.
• Slice into small, thin discs and add to salads and stir-fries.
• Cut the stalk into small pieces and simmer in soups and stews or use to flavor teas.
• Crush and line the bottom of pans or foil food wrappings when roasting or grilling meats and vegetables.
Substitution TipsWhen fresh lemon grass is unavailable, substitute dried lemon grass or strips of lemon peel.
Try one of our favorite lemon grass recipes:
Green Chicken Curry
Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup – Tom Yam Goong
Basil and Five Spice Chicken with Cantaloupe Salad