Lemongrass is an aromatic herb that is often used in Asian dishes, adding a citrusy zest that makes the flavor profile more complex.
Lemongrass can be a bit tricky to use, and if you feel like it might not be something you should be using in your foods, you probably just don’t know how to utilize it.
Let’s look at what this herb is and how to prepare it as well as a few ways to use it in your cooking. Then, you can decide if it should be a staple of your seasoning collection or not.
What Is Lemongrass?
This perennial, spiky grass can be found throughout Africa, Asia, and Australia. It has a tough outer layer that would need to be stripped away to reveal the white core that you would use to cook with.
Lemongrass can be used on its own to make a fragrant, healthy tea. Or, it can be added to a variety of dishes as an herbal seasoning.
What Part of Lemongrass Do You Cook with?
The interior of the lemongrass plant is surrounded by tough, exterior blades of green and yellow grass. That interior is white and is used in cooking. Before you learn how to cook with lemongrass, you need to know how to prepare it for cooking.
You can start by trimming off the top and base of the lemongrass, getting rid of the spiky bits. Then, use the side of a knife to crush the stalks, which frees the fragrant oil inside the plant.
Cut up the lemongrass stalks into smaller pieces but don’t eat them with the rest of the meal. They are usually tough and provide flavor but not nourishment like this (when they are uncooked).
If you are making a marinade using lemongrass, you can cut off all of the lemongrass except for about the four inches on the bottom. Shuck the tough exteriors and chop the lemongrass up into small pieces.
Once you cook it, it will be edible and provide a delightful flavor to your meal.
How to Cook with Lemongrass Stalks
Be careful about throwing out too much of the lemongrass. A lot of its is still usable, but you just need to get rid of the parts that won’t be necessary for whatever you are cooking. What you keep and what you cook depend largely on what you are making.
You always want to take off the ends of the lemongrass and then peel away the outer leaves. Get rid of a layer or two of the stalk then. How much you get rid of will be based on how fresh the lemongrass is.
The fresher lemongrass is more edible, but older lemongrass will be tougher on the outside. So, if the lemongrass isn’t very fresh, you will need to get rid of additional layers.
Remember that this herb is naturally tough, so be prepared to cook it well before eating it. If you only cook it lightly, then you will want to either eat around the lemongrass in your food or toss it out before serving the food.
How to Cook with Lemongrass in Soup
If you are using lemongrass in soup, there is a simple process you can put it through to make it soup ready.
First, trim the ends off and a couple of the outer layers of leaves. Then, cut the remaining third of the lemongrass stalks into rings and dice small from there. You can cook it in your soup recipe at the same time you add the other seasonings.
It will need to simmer on low for about 10 minutes before it is fully cooked. You can always test it out and take a nibble to see if it is fully cooked or if it is still tough before you serve the soup with lemongrass in it.
What to Cook with Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a versatile herb that can be used in so many dishes. Mostly, it is used in sauces like marinades, as well as in soups, stews, and other hot foods.
It works best when cooked well in a liquid dish, as that spreads the citrus flavor of the lemongrass through the dish, letting lemongrass permeate for a flavorful experience.
How to Cook Chicken with Lemongrass
If you are cooking chicken and want to season with lemongrass, you have a few options.
You can boil the chicken with all of its seasonings, including lemongrass. This ensures that the herb cooks all the way and isn’t as tough as it would be otherwise.
You can also use the lemongrass in your marinade for the chicken. Just make up your marinade according to the directions and the lemongrass should get fully cooked.
The marinade is usually made from a few ingredients, including herbs, spices and a liquid base, like soy sauce, barbecue sauce, or teriyaki sauce. It can be spread on the chicken before baking and then baked with it in the
This will make sure that the lemongrass doesn’t come out too tough in this dish.
How to Cook with Fresh Lemongrass
Usually, if you are buying lemongrass fresh, then it has not been cooked and will need to be cut and prepared properly. If you have read through this article, then you already know what to do with fresh lemongrass.
Make sure you take off those tough outer layers and cook the lemongrass thoroughly.
Remember that you are only working with about the bottom third of the stalk. The remainder of it can be saved aside for teas or something similar. You don’t have to toss out the rest entirely.
How finely you cut the lemongrass will depend on what you are planning to do with it. If you want to only cook it slightly and use it mostly as flavoring for your dish, then cut the pieces of lemongrass large.
You can remove them when the dish is done so that you don’t have to eat around them. If you are going to leave it in the dish, make sure you cook it all the way and slice it very small.