Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.In truth, you know it best for its deep citrusy scent in Southeast Asian food, though you might've also encountered it in a fancy cocktail or dessert.To infuse broths, curries, even peanut butter cups, you'll want to release the fragrant oils by roughly chopping, "bruising" (with a rolling pin, meat pounder, heavy skillet, the back of a knife... get creative!If you plan on cooking and eating the stalk -- for a salad or sauce, or to mix with meat as in these lemongrass-ginger patties -- it's best to use a heavier hand to eliminate stringiness.Try pulverizing with a mortar and pestle, grating with a microplane, or whizzing in your food processor until the consistency is similar to that of lemon zest.
How to Prepare Lemongrass to Use for Cooking
A versatile herb that can be used in all kinds of recipes, from marinades to curries and cocktails to stir-fries, lemongrass has a deep citrusy aroma that can typically be found in Thai cooking and other Asian cuisines.But while it can impart a bright flavor to any meal, this stalky plant can be more than a little intimidating to use if you don't know how to break it down.In this article, we will go over where to buy lemongrass, how to select it, and the steps needed to take this herb from a daunting stalk to a delightful addition in your next meal.If you can't find lemongrass with the fresh produce, check the freezer section.To prepare lemongrass for cooking, you need a sharp serrated knife, a cutting board, and a food processor or mortar and pestle.The softer, fleshier part of the lemongrass (which is what you want to use in your cooking) is located under the tough outer leaves.Starting from the lower end (where the bulb was), make thin slices of up to two-thirds of the stalk.The upper end the stalk will be mostly green and woody but is still useful in cooking soups and curries.You can use the upper, reserved stalk to add even more flavor and fragrance to soups and curries.Simply make several superficial cuts along the length of the stalk with your serrated knife.Place the sliced lemongrass in a food processor (or chopper) and process well on "high.".Note that the lemongrass still needs to be cooked or boiled for at least five minutes before it is soft enough to be edible.If you can't find lemongrass or are in a bind, you can substitute lemon or lime juice in its place. .
Lemongrass look a little like fat spring onions, with the same swollen base, but the stalk is woodier, and composed of tightly packed grey-green leaves.To use whole, slice off the very bottom of the stalk, and peel off any dried-out layers, then bash the woody top end with a rolling pin to soften, and help release some of the aromatic oils. .
Here's How: Prep Lemongrass
In order to use lemongrass to flavor pretty much any Southeast Asian dishes you’d like to make, you’ll need to do a little bit of prepwork. .
How to Use Lemongrass
Preparing lemongrass was one of the first chores Nite Yun, chef and owner of Oakland’s critically acclaimed Nyum Bai, performed in her mother’s kitchen.As its name suggests, lemongrass is a grass with botanical origins that stretch across South and Southeast Asia, from India and Sri Lanka to Indonesia and the Philippines.“I always prefer fresh lemongrass as the natural oils bring so much flavor and complexity to dishes,” says Gil Payumo, chef at Filipino fusion restaurant Señor Sisig in San Francisco.In South and Southeast Asian cooking, lemongrass commonly conspires with ingredients like garlic, galangal (and/or ginger), cilantro, Thai basil, shallots, lime leaves, and coconut milk to create bold, complex flavors. .
How to Buy, Prep, and Store Lemongrass
Ground: Make paste in mortar and pestle or food processor and freeze in 1-tablespoon mounds on plate. .
Lemongrass Winter Care: How to Prepare for the Cold
As a tropical plant, lemongrass isn’t exactly suited to the chilly temperatures of winter in much of North America.However, there are ways to help this herb survive the cold, and come back healthy and vigorous in spring.If you’re in Zone 9, your lemongrass can survive the winter outdoors as long as you provide adequate protection from the cold.Using gardening shears, remove the leaves and cut the stalks back until they are six to twelve inches tall.Think of dormant plants like hibernating bears; they both take it easy in the winter so they can kick into action in the spring.Make sure to dig at least two inches either side of the base of the stem in order to preserve the roots.After you’ve dug it up, use your hands to carefully separate each lemongrass clump into sections of two to four stalks.After dividing, use scissors or pruning shears to cut the leaves and stalks back so they are 6-12 inches tall.This haircut helps the maintain moisture in the upcoming months by decreasing the surface area it uses to respire.Since overwintering lemongrass is going to be dormant, don’t expect growth or harvests over the cooler months.If you want your plant to continue growing, make sure it gets at least ten hours of natural or artificial light each day.Once daytime temperatures are regularly in the 50s, move your pots to a sunny and warm location indoors.By practicing crop rotation, you help prevent problems with disease, pests, and nutrient-deficiency in the soil. .
This citrusy plant plays a starring role in many Southeast-Asian cuisines, adding its unique flavor to everything from curries to cold drinks.In addition to its uses in the kitchen, it’s valued medicinally as a remedy for a wide range of ailments, from stomach troubles and fever to depression.Much of lemongrass’s flavor is concentrated in its lower, cane-like stalks, which is why most markets sell them already trimmed of their leafy tops, leaving just a few short, spiky blades still attached.To infuse teas, broths, soups, and braising liquids, trim off the spiky tops and the bases, crush the stalks with the side of a knife to release their aromatic oils, and then cut them into 1- or 2-inch pieces.To use lemongrass in marinades, stir-fries, salads, spice rubs, and curry pastes, trim the top and base of the stalks—you want to use only the bottom 4 inches or so. .