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Fine Cooking Issue 52
Photos: Scott Phillips
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The citrusy aroma of lemongrass perfumes the dishes of many Asian cuisines, including Thai, Indian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese. Its lemonlike fragrance stands up to prolonged cooking, making it an especially popular choice for soups and curries and even for lemonade. It can either be infused into a liquid and removed before eating, or it can be minced and mixed right in. Lemongrass has a few sharp or woody parts that need to be carefully trimmed away before use;  

1. Trim lemongrass by cutting off the spiky top and enough of the bottom so that you no longer see a woody core. Peel off a few of the outer layers until you’re left with just the tender heart of the stalk.

How to buy and store: Some supermarkets sell lemongrass in their fresh herb or exotic produce section, but your best bet is to head to an Asian grocery where the lemongrass is likely to be fresher. Choose firm, greenish-white stalks that have reasonably fresh-looking tops. Lemongrass lasts a long time, so it’s all right if the tops look a little dry, but they shouldn’t be totally desiccated. Wrap extra stalks in plastic and store in the refrigerator for a few weeks or in the freezer for up to six months.

2. For infusions, bruise the stalk by smashing it under the side of a cleaver or chef’s knife. For easy removal from a pot of hot liquid, tie the whole stalk into a-knot, or cut it into smaller lengths for straining out.
3. To mince lemongrass, slice the stalk thinly crosswise and then chop through the-slices until they’re minced.


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