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IOTM: Lemon grass

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Jenise

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IOTM: Lemon grass

by Jenise » Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:49 pm

<table border="0" align="right" width="90"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/lemongrass.jpg" border="1"></td></tr></table>When Asian food expert Charmaine Solomon was giving a master class in the United States, lemon grass was on the list of ingredients list she asked the school to provide. When she got to the classroom, she found they'd provided just the leaves and gotten rid of the real business end of lemon grass, the lower stalk. That story illustrates the extent to which lemon grass, even in cooking institutions, is under-utilized and misused.

"Under-utilized" certainly defines what goes on in my kitchen, and I have only the lamest of excuses to offer for why. Because the truth is that I adore the tangy, perfumed flavor of it and the kinds of dishes it suits best. I just, for some reason, rarely get around to buying and using it. When I do, it's invariably for Stuart Yaniger's Spicy Lemongrass Tofu, a Slanted Door-inspired recipe he posted on the old FLDG and which I absolutely adore (maybe I'll dig out and repost it--it deserves attention).

Lack of a consistent fresh supply is no excuse for not using lemon grass more often: plastic-wrapped lemon grass can be kept for weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer if well-wrapped.

What stops a lot of would-be cooks is the confusion illustrated above. How much of it's usable? It's so fibrous--is it ever edible?

To use fresh lemon grass in a salad or a curry, cut off the hard base of the root end (about half an inch) and peel away the tough outer leaves. Peeling will reveal the pale lower portion of the stalk, about the first five inches--that's the keeper part. The leaves can be used for an infusion, but there's so much more intense flavor in the keeper part I'd personally use some of that than try to coax more flavor out of the lesser outer leaves. Finely slice only the tenderest white portion. Fine slicing is reccomended even if you're going to grind the grass into a curry paste because the fibers are so strong they'll survive most blending if allowed to remain in any length at all.

To flavor a soup or stew, however, the usual method is to leave the long leaves on the stalk, remove a couple outer ones, then bruise the stalk until it's pliable. The stalk can now be tied like a rope into a loose knot/loop (easier to remove, and it keeps the leaves from floating apart)--drop that into the soup or stew, and remove before serving.

Since lemon grass works so well with seafood, it's a great summer ingredient. And since it works so well with spicy foods, it's great for winter curries. So basically, no matter where you live, June should be a fine time to join me in working lemon grass into our repertoires once and for all.

As always, please respond by mentioning your favorite ways to use this ingredient.
Last edited by Jenise on Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Paul Winalski » Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:23 pm

I haven't tried it, but according to one of my Thai cookbooks lemon grass grows quite happily in pots or in a garden. Just put the stalks with the root ends in some water until new roots start to grow, then plant them. Reportedly the roots send out underground runners fairly quickly and new shoots will come up around the original. These can be harvested as needed.

I mainly use lemon grass in Thai curries and in Thai Chicken and Galangal Soup (Thom Kha Gai). I'll dig the recipes out of the old FLDG and post them here.

-Paul W.
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Larry Greenly » Fri Jun 02, 2006 10:27 am

By coincidence, I happen to be growing lemongrass right now. I started a stalk in water and now it's in a pot. I love the stuff. Later, I'll post a Thai recipe or two.
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Bob Henrick » Thu Jun 08, 2006 9:43 pm

Jenise, if one doesn't cook much asian and especially thai food, what does one use lemongrass for. I grew a big mound of it last summer, and when cold weather came it died never to return. For me (and I suspect for a lot of people) it is a waste of time and money.
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Jenise » Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:05 pm

Bob, you're right that lemon grass is a typical Asian ingredient, but that doesn't mean that's it's only use. Like star anise and any number of "typical Asian" ingredients, western chefs have found many fabulous ways to make the same old thing not so same-old.

For you, I would highly recommend a spicy marinade for chicken--wings, drumsticks, whole, whatever--to grill off on your kamodo. Want a recipe?
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by MikeH » Tue Jun 13, 2006 9:45 pm

Last night's Cincinnati Offline was held at Pho Paris, a Vietnamese-French fusion restaurant. My dessert was Lemongrass Creme Brulee. It was very tasty. However, the flavor from the caramelized crust tended to drown out the subtle lemon flavor in the custard.
Cheers!
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Carl Eppig

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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Carl Eppig » Thu Jun 15, 2006 5:15 pm

Don't have any experience with the fresh stuff, but have been using the dry/ground version for decades in our curries, and other SE Asian dishes.
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Bob Henrick » Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:10 pm

Carl, I am not sure if I have seen you in this forum of late, but it is good to see you. I know you were a regular in the original WLDG but Not so much here or on the Netscape iteration. BTW, do you concoct your curries etc. Also, if you do, do you also concoct dry rubs for bbq?
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Carl Eppig » Thu Jun 15, 2006 9:05 pm

Hi Bob. Glad to be back. I couldn't figure out the Netscape thing. Here are two of the recipes:

Curry Powder;

2 tsp Boemboe Sate’
1 tsp Ground coriander
1/2 tsp Ground lemongrass
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Granulated garlic

Whisk all together. This makes about a tablespoon. This is what we make our leftover lamb curry out of. It can be mixed up in larger quantities with no problem.


Dry BBQ Rub:

1 T Sweet paprika
1 T Salt
1 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Granulated garlic (garlic powder)
1/2 tsp Red pepper (cayenne)
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground thyme

All spices should be ground. Whisk all together, and store in a dry, opaque container and place.
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Re: IOTM: Lemon grass

by Alan Uchrinscko » Sun Jun 18, 2006 12:57 pm

Bob,

Lemongrass is used by the French a lot, typically around Bretagna, for cream sauce.

You bruise it, and cook it in white wine, reducing by about a half and then strain and add cream. It is wonderful over scallops.
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RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by Robin Garr » Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:50 am

Lemongrass

I've never quite understood why lemongrass isn't more widely popular in Western cuisines. A key ingredient in Southeast Asian cookery, from Vietnamese through Cambodian and Laotian to Thai, this fragrant herb imparts a lovely lemony perfume; and merely substituting lemon or lime juice can't fully replicate its mellow but tangy complexity.

Lemongrass turns up often nowadays in international "Pacific Rim" dishes, and even occasionally, I'm told, as an exotic aromatic in variations on classic French cream sauces.

But it's still far from a common ingredient in most English-speaking kitchens, perhaps because it's hard to find outside ethnic groceries and specialty stores, and it doesn't look all that appetizing on first glance: Think of a somewhat desiccated stalk that looks a bit like a dried-up green onion and is just tough enough to require a serious effort to cut with a sharp knife.

But solve its simple mysteries, and you've added a seriously good herb to your collection, and chances are you'll soon start thinking of interesting new ways to use it in unexpected places. Lemongrass ice cream, anyone?

Lemongrass is the Ingredient of the Month for June in our online FoodLovers Discussion Group. After putting together this delicious, Vietnamese-inspired lemongrass duck dish over lemongrass rice, I'm sorry it took me this long to get to it. Here's the procedure ... you could easily substitute chicken or pork for the duck; maybe even tofu.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

<b>FOR THE DUCK</b>
1 boneless duck breast, 12-16 ounces (350-500g)
2 stalks fresh lemongrass
Salt
1/2 of a lime
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon <i>nam pla</i> (Thai fish sauce)
Sriracha sauce or similar Vietnamese hot sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil

<B>FOR THE RICE</B>
1/4 of a Vidalia or other sweet onion
2 stalks fresh lemongrass
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Vietnamese lemongrass sauce (Nuoc Uop Gia Vi Xa, optional)
Salt
Chopped cilantro for garnish

PROCEDURE:

1. Trim the thick layer of skin and fat from the duck breast and discard it (or render the fat and save it as a wonderful, if dangerously unhealthy, sauteeing medium). Cut the lean meat into chopsticks-size bites.

2. Peel the tough outer skin from two stalks of lemongrass, and cut the tender white portion into very thin slices. Mash them in a mortar and pestle with a little salt and fresh lime juice until they form a paste. Stir in the rest of the juice of your half-lime, the soy sauce, <i>nam pla</i> and hot sauce to taste, and use this combination to marinate the duck for 30 minutes or so, while you make the rice.

3. Peel the onion and cut it into thin strands. Peel the tough outer skin from two more stalks of lemongrass, but leave them whole. Whack them a couple of times with the side of a chef's knife or cleaver, a procedure that seems to help release some of their aromatic juices. Proceed as if you were making a pilaf: Heat the peanut oil in a saucepan until it sizzles, then put in the onions and the pieces of lemongrass and stir-fry until the onions are translucent but not yet browning and the lemongrass is aromatic. Stir in the rice and cook for a moment or two, then add the broth, the optional lemongrass sauce, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover tightly, and simmer until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. Discard the lemongrass pieces and keep the rice warm.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a skillet or wok and stir-fry the duck pieces, with their marinade, until they are just cooked through. Serve atop the rice in a large bowl, garnished with chopped cilantro.

<B>WINE MATCH:</B> Normally I like a dry, earthy red wine with duck, perhaps a Burgundy, Rhone red or Northern Italian red. The lemongrass and citrus characters of this dish, though, seemed to call for a dry but full-bodied white, and a Northeastern Italian white blend from the Veneto - a Masi 2001 Garganega-Sauvignon Blanc blend - went very well.
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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by tsunami » Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:04 am

i have a personal favorite that is different, but it bring out the ingredience as best: :D

i also like to use it in sauces, thai food, influnece it in european food etc.

lemongrass-chocolat mousse

100g white couverture (chocolat)
50 g sugar
200g fresh wipping cream
50g egg white
50g egg yolk
a tiny hint salt
1 gelatine (2 gramm)
1 lemongrass

thinnest slice the lemongrass and bring it to cook with the cream,
take it from heat, wait 5 minute and colande it in a bowl, cover, keep in refrigerator for 3 hours.

put gelatine in cold water,
make chocolat "liquid" over bain marie (not over 50°celsius!),
batter the eggwhite with the salt to stiff,
batter the cream to stiff
batter the egg yolk with the sugar over bainmarie until it's withe,take it from the heat, add pressed gelatine, stir, add slowly and stirring add the chocolat, add the whipped cream, and slowly and carfully add egg white.
put it in a pre-coolde gratin-form,
kepp it refridgerated for at least 5 hours!

serve it with a friut couli, as like mango or passionfruit or/and cumquats


enjoy. :D




oh wine match: :wink:

robert weil TBA :oops: :D

or uri borok aszuessenzia 1993 :wink:
Last edited by tsunami on Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Robin Garr

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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:22 am

tsunami wrote:thinnest slice the lemongrass and bring it to cook with the cream


Albino, do you strain the lemongrass pieces out of the cream before whipping?
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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by tsunami » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:37 am

well, sorry my bad english :?

i wrote: wait 5 minute and colande it in a bowl, cover, keep in refrigerator for 3 hours.

i did use a language converter for this word :oops: ,


it ment to strain into a bowl and put it in refrigerator for at least 5 hours (only good cold cream will whip perfectly)


are you going to use my recepie? :wink:


i do take a clear foil (like the foil for light-presentations "printable-foil")
warm up some dark chocolat and "strike-out" thinly on the foil, wait until the chocolat starts getting strong, than fast cut the foil in stripes and bend it together at the ends. (it should look like drops). but it in refrigerator.

you can make them in advance and fill the lemongrass-mousse into.
- good chilling for at least 5 hours.
it also look great:
[img]http://s2.bilder-hosting.de/tbnl/U5YM0.jpg[/img]
i made this desert at the hospital in our city were i worked as a chef
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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:56 am

tsunami wrote:i wrote: wait 5 minute and colande it in a bowl


Ah, my mistake, Albino! I should have seen that. :)

In English, the bowl with small holes that is used for this purpose is called a "colander."
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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by tsunami » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:59 am

so that would be the one for spaghetti,

and the "strainer" the one for tea?
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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 23, 2006 10:33 am

tsunami wrote:so that would be the one for spaghetti,

and the "strainer" the one for tea?


That is generally true, Albino, but it is also possible to have a large strainer that can be used for spaghetti.

In my understanding of it, a colander and a strainer are used for similar purposes. A colander is a metal bowl with many small holes. A strainer is made of wire mesh. The strainer would be used for separating very small objects from liquid; the colander is used to drain larger things (like pasta).
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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by tsunami » Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:08 am

thx :!:
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Re: RCP /FoodLetter: Lemongrass

by Jenise » Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:14 pm

Yum! Albino's mousse would be a perfect end-of-meal for Robin's duck breast, wouldn't it? Fantastic recipes, both.

I haven't cooked all the wonderful things I intended to. My first planned project had to do with chicken wings--I bought fresh organic ones at a little store in Vancouver three weeks ago, only to find myself an hour later sitting across a desk from an Agricultural Inspector in the Customs building at the Canadian border. It would seem I was about to infect my fellow Americans with bird flu and had to be stopped.

So I made Tom Kha Gai and then my cat died and I lost my will to cook. Last night I started cooking for a tasting of old pinots I'm throwing this afternoon to cheer myself up, wherein all the food is going to be semi-Asian. I started an oxtail terrine last night that I intended to give a vaguely Chinese flavor to by using star anise in the cooking broth and adding layers of sauteed shitakes. But fresh shitakes were not to be had, and by the time the tails were done braising I stumbled over the lemon grass I'd purchased for the chicken wings, and so guess what happened? I haven't assembled the final terrine yet, but the lemon grass was giving the beef a very fine flavor indeed. I think I'll pump it with some kaffir lime and coconut milk this morning to finish it as a Beef Panang Terrine. Should be good.
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