Using and Growing Lemongrass
Using and Growing Lemongrass
Designed by Brenda Hyde
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Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratusis, a tropical herb that is showing up in garden departments and nurseries all over the country. It's not as exotic as you might think and it's one of the "lemon herbs" that is a joy to grow and cook with. It's only hardy to Zone 9, where it will go dormant in the mild winters, and can eventually reach about 9 foot.
But in the north where it need to be taken inside, it only reaches about 3 foot or so. Give lemon- grass plenty of water and hot sun for it to do it's best. If you are bringing it inside in the fall, cut it back to about 8 inches. Store it in a cool part of the house and reduce the water to a minimum.
It will go dormant until later in the winter when it will start showing signs of growth, then you can move it to a warm sunny window and water as normal. You can remove it from the pot and replant in the ground after all danger of frost has passed. Lemongrass is a wonderful container herb!
Usually the tender white part of the lemongrass stalk is used for adding to dishes, but the remainder can be used for stocks or infusions or even dried to use in potpourri and tea. So, don't waste any part of it! Some cooks will grind the stalks and use this for seasoning. Or you can treat it more like bay leaf and leave it in larger pieces that can be removed before serving.
Try tying several blades together with cooking string and place them on top of fish as you are grilling, baking or broiling. Another neat thing to do is to take a few of the blades, tie them together and pound them with a meat tenderizer to bruise them, then use them as a brush to baste meat or seafood as you grill.
Lemongrass is a great herb to use with chicken. Stuff a roasting chicken with it before baking and season with garlic, pepper and salt for a great dish. Below are a variety of recipes using lemongrass.
If you don't grow it look for it in the grocery section with fresh beanspouts and other Asian produce or look for an Asian grocery in your area. You might also find it at a farmer's market. A note on another ingredient-fish sauce. If you cannot locate this, you can substitute a light soy sauce or rice vinegar with a little extra salt added.
3 fresh lemongrass stalks, chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped green onion (include white)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried hot pepper flakes
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
4 1/2 tsp. fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Mix together and marinate 2-4 pounds of chicken. Marinate 4 hours or overnight. Grill or broil until done. You can also use a cut up chicken and roast it in a roasting pan.
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger (peeled)
2 tsp. fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tsp. honey mustard
4 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Mix all and add to 1 or 1/2 pounds shrimp. Marinate for several hours. The shrimp can be sauted in a large skillet or grilled.
Lemongrass Fried Rice
1 onion, diced
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tbsp. fresh minced ginger
3 stalks lemongrass, minced, white only
4 cups cooked rice
juice of one lemon
In a large nonstick skillet heat a little bit of oil. Saute the onions, garlic, ginger and lemongrass til they soften-don't brown. Add the rice and saute all for about 5 minutes til heated through. Add the lemon juice and salt if desired. Serve with chicken or seafood.
1 tsp. lemongrass
1 cup boiling water
Pour the water over the lemongrass and steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten as desired. Makes one cup of tea.
Lemongrass and Mint Tea
1 cup chopped mint
1 cup chopped lemongrass
2 cups boiling water
3 cups brewed black tea
juice of one lime
Lemonade concentrate or a sweetened lemonade mix-enough to make 2 quarts (use it as is, not mixed). Steep the mint and lemongrass in the boiling water for several hours or even overnight. Mix with the 3 cups of cooled brewed tea. Add the remaining ingredients and then add enough cold water to bring it to one gallon total. Serve over ice.