Lemongrass is usually the taste of summer, Vietnamese, Thai dishes, grilled meats and seafood where the bright and enchanting tang is so perfect. But when dark winter days and cold nights start to get you down a dose of invigorating lemongrass can be wonderfully refreshing. This might be the only time we have encouraged you to eat non seasonally but sometimes we need a touch of sunshine in the dark of the mid year!
By smell alone, lemongrass is a pungent scent but when used as it is is South East Asian cuisines it creates a layer that can be used to build a dish on. Lemongrass is one of the core crops in northern Thailand that was used to help tribes overcome their dependence on poppy framing. The Thai Royal Family funded projects to support farmers in remote locations in order to guarantee them outlets for alternative crops. That was back in 1969 and the result has seen a real move toward other crops making a difference in the life of tribesman. Lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia where it grows basically anywhere. If you have room in your garden a bulbous stem will root in water in a few days and be able to be planted successfully here in Auckland. But for the Thai, the plentiful rain and sun make it a massive crop that can be exported around the globe.
When buying lemongrass look for whole stems so you can peel them to reach the tender heart where all the oil and flavour is. As the ends can be fibrous and tough, remove those before shredding finely to add to dishes or simply slice in half lengthwise so that centre core is accessed more. Lemongrass also freezes well so prepare into sections so there is no waiting time for it to defrost. Always slice across the fibres as this will help break them up so your dinner guests don’t have to deal with odd chunks of very chewy lemongrass.
Adding larger whole pieces to your stock that can be removed later will provide a bright, lemony hit that will run alongside the more processed and chopped lemongrass so don’t be afraid to add it in. Said to be good for headaches, muscular pain and fever, reduce lethargy and stress and act as an anti-depressant. lemongrass simply in a glass of boiled water can be just the pick me up you need on a cold winter day.