Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Spotlight Food: Lemongrass

Lemongrass

Takrai

An essential ingredient in Thai, Vietnamese, and other cuisines of Southeast Asia, Lemongrass is a citrus flavored plant used in curries, hot and sour soups, stir fries and more.

To use lemongrass, it has to be prepared. Although the entire stalk can be used to flavor a broth, only the white inner bulb is edible. To prepare, cut the bottom of the stalk (about the bottom 4-6 inches). Bruise the white part with a meat mallet, the back of a pan, or any other hard surface. This releases the essentail oils in the lemongrass, which give dishes that tart, citrusy flavor and aroma. you can further slice or mince the stalk crossways. Bottled or dried lemongrass is available, but I keep it on hand for use only in a pinch, when fresh isn't available. With the proliferation of Asian markets and specialty products available in regular markets, you shouldn't have too much difficulty finding it!

I use Lemongrass in some of my most popular client dishes, such as Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Caramel Sauce and Larp Gai of Chiang Mai (see the recipe below), and I also make a simple syrup infusion of lemongrass and sugar for the base of a fabulous Lemongrass Granita, one of the best palate cleansers around!

for more info, see this GREAT online article: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/lemongrass.htm

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