Cooking with Lemongrass

January 11, 2017

Cooking With Lemongrass

The flavour intensity of lemongrass varies widely depending on the climate where it was grown. The plants stems, leaves and base smell of fresh lemons with a hint of ginger. When cooking with lemongrass it’s best to season by taste rather than using quantities listed in recipes and can be used in a variety of dishes ranging from soups to desserts.




Lemongrass is fibrous and stringy and unpleasant to eat so remember to bash before cooking to release flavour and remove stalks before serving.


Lemongrass is typically sold fresh (a bunch of 3-4 stalks aprox one foot long), but it’s also available dried and powdered (sereh).  One teaspoon of powder is roughly equivalent to one fresh stalk.  You can also buy prepared, ready-to-use lemongrass in tubs in the freezer section of your local Asian/Chinese grocery store.  Dried lemongrass slices should be soaked for two hours before using.


When purchasing fresh lemongrass, look for firm stalks (not soft or rubbery, which means it’s too old). Lower stalk should be pale yellow (almost white) in colour, while upper stalks are green (do not purchase if outer leaves are crusty or brown).  Lemongrass can be kept in the fridge for three weeks and frozen up to six months.


Most of the flavour is in the thicker bulb end, which can be added whole to dishes, or peeled, then crushed or chopped.  Lemon grass is often coupled with coconut milk, chilies, cilantro, and garlic.

Keep pieces small for eating and larger for flavouring.Use the entire stalk, which will be cut and prepped in different ways depending on the dish.  Discard the dry, outermost stalks and cut off the top third of the inner stalks. Trim each root tip until the purple rings are visible.


Press the stem with the flat side of a knife to bruise and release the flavour. This is essential when infusing soups and syrups.

  1.  To prepare lemon grass for stir-frying, cut the pale section across the fibres. Cut the bulb diagonally in rounds measuring about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) long. (Freeze the green ends to infuse milk for custards).

2.  Add very thin slices of lemon grass to salads. Slicing thinly breaks the stalk’s tough fibers so that the pieces can be chewed and swallowed with ease.

3.  Slice the stalk at an angle to create sections approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length. Bruise the pieces and toss them into simmered recipes such as soups.  (for at least 5-10 minutes then remove)

4.  Make a paste by pounding thin slices of lemon grass. Add the paste to curry dishes and other recipes.

5.  Flavour vodka with lemongrass.

Clean and bruise a lemongrass stalk.

Steep the stalk for 3 to 4 days in a nearly full bottle of vodka. Shake the bottle occasionally.

Take out the stalk after steeping.


6.  Make tea with lemongrass by steeping pieces in hot water.

Kirsten Hartvig – Healing Spices – 2016

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