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Lemon Grass

Information about Lemon Grass

 Featured Ingredient - Thailand



Go to:-   Thailand Main Page  |  Thailand Speciality Dish  |  Cooking by Country Main Page


Lemon grass (dtakrai) belongs to the plant family Poaceae (grass). There are about 55 species most of which are native to South Asia, and Australia but the "East-Indian" lemon grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) which is native to India, Burma and Thailand is the type most of us will use in cooking.

It has a delicate lemony flavour and is used in a wide assortment of dishes such as soups, salads and curries in many Asian cuisines and has become a very popular "designer"  ingredient in western cooking.

Lemon grass has slender stalks about a foot long. For cooking use the stalks only and choose thick, light green stalks that feel firm all along its length and that are not dried out and wilted. Cut off the woody root tip of each stalk until the purplish-tinted rings begin to show and remove the loose, dry outer layer(s). Also, if the top of the stalk is dry and fibrous trim this off too. When using it in cooked dishes, bang it with a cleaver to cruise the membranes and release more flavour.

To store fresh lemon grass, wrap well in clingfilm and refrigerate. Depending on how fresh it was when purchased, it will keep for up to three weeks. It is also available in dry or powdered forms however, when using dried lemon grass it should be soaked in warm water to soften it before use. It's perfectly ok for cooked dishes, but don't bother using it where a recipe calls for fresh uncooked lemon grass, such as in salads.

Lemon grass can be grown in any frost-free area, or in a large pot so it can be moved indoors for protection in winter, however it needs copious amounts of water. It is bulbous and spreads outward in a clump (not by seed). If you can manage to buy very fresh stalks, just pop one in a glass of water until the roots start to grow then plant in a pot (any type of soil will do) and keep it in a hot sunny position, remembering to water regularly. As they get larger, transplant to bigger pots. Harvest the outside stalks first. One plant should be sufficient for most households.

You will find recipes using this fragrant plant on both the Thailand Cooking by Country main page and in other sections of this web site. Use the search facility to find them all.

Happy Cooking!

Cooking by Country - Thailand 

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