Lemon grass is an essential herb in several Southeast Asian cuisines, including Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian. It is also important in some Caribbean cuisines as well. Traditionally a perennial tropical plant, it is sensitive to harsh winters but can be successfully grown indoors if given plenty of sunlight. Use it fresh or store it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Lemon grass can also be frozen for up to six months with no loss of flavor.
Bruise the lemon grass before preparing in any other way to enhance its flavor. Like garlic, it benefits from this treatment, which releases essential oils.
Use all parts of a stalk of lemon grass except for the roots. The roots are inedible, but the rest of the plant lends a distinct lemony flavor to cooked dishes.
Mince it finely to expose the most surface area possible to whatever you are cooking. You may wish to put these pieces inside a tea filter bag before cooking, because lemon grass can be very tough and fibrous. The flavor it imparts is nice, but you may not wish to actually eat it. Soups, stews, and curries benefit greatly from a little lemon grass.
Lemon Grass Tea
Bruise and chop lemon grass into small pieces.
Place lemon grass pieces inside the tea filter bag if you are using it. Then, put the lemon grass (filter bagged or naked) in the small saucepan.
Fill the small saucepan with water.
Bring the saucepan full of water and lemon grass to a rolling boil on your stove. Set the timer for five minutes and allow to continue boiling for this amount of time. Do not let it boil over, but try to keep it at a rolling boil.
Pour lemon grass tea into your mug. If you are using the tea filter bag, pull this out and discard it. If you are not using the tea filter bag, pour the tea through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out the pieces of lemon grass. Add honey if you like.
About this Author
Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication CarEnvy.ca. Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.