Lemon Grass has creamy green, woody stems with a small bulb at the base and slender, blade-like leaves at the tip. It has a crisp lemon and rose flavour that is slightly gingery and herbaceous.
It is a central ingredient in many Asian dishes, especially Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese recipes, where it is mixed with fresh coriander, galangal, garlic, shallots, chilli, and green peppercorns. However, it can also be used in Western recipes, for the same uses as ginger. It adds body and a touch of the exotic to fish, poultry, stir-fries, stocks, soups, and salads. It is most often crushed to bring out the oils, then simmered during cooking, and removed before serving, although it can also be minced or pureed.
Lemon Grass can be made into a delicious tea that is said to reduce pain and inflammation while improving digestion. The oil has anti-microbial properties that reduce bacterial and fungal infections.
Lemon Grass is a hardy herb that will retain its freshness in the fridge, where it should be stored in the original punnet. It can be dried for storage by placing the stalks on a plate or in a paper bag and keeping in a cool, dry, dark place for a few days. It can also be frozen by placing in a zip-lock bag as is. Seal and freeze overnight.
Culture and History
Lemon Grass is native to Southeast Asia, where it is a key flavour in traditional cuisine, and a valued medicinal herb. The essential oil extraction is used in perfumery, cosmetics, and pharmacy.