Lemongrass – The Taste & Uses Explained

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Last updated on March 12, 2023

bunch-of-lemongrass

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Lemongrass is a unique aromatic herb that adds floral notes and a hint of ginger to food.

It's often used to brighten up curries, soups, or grilled meats. It is a common ingredient in Asian food and pairs nicely with the abundance of spices that Asian cuisine often uses.

Lemongrass has many uses, including medicinal and aromatics, and is often used as a seasoning. 

If you don't yet know about this lovely herb and are curious to try it, we are here with all the facts!

What is Lemongrass?

bunch-of-lemograss

Lemongrass is an herb that tastes like citrus with a hint of ginger.

This unique flavor and aroma are often used as a lemon substitute and an air freshener.

The floral notes blend well with marinades and grilled meats, adding a unique flavor to both.

The tough stalks are minced and added to sauces or curries to brighten the flavors.

If overcooked, lemongrass will taste bitter, so care is taken to ensure that the full flavor notes incorporate into the meat or sauces without being overcooked.


What Can I Expect When Trying Lemongrass?

Lemongrass has a strong, citrusy flavor similar to a lemon, but with a pungent and earthy undertone.

It's also great for digestive issues and aids in blood flow and the reduction of acid reflux. 

Lemongrass is a natural sedative that relaxes the overworked nerves in the body and helps one sleep better. 

All positive things!


What is Lemongrass Commonly Used For?

bowl-of-asian-cuisine

Lemongrass is used in a variety of dishes, primarily Asian dishes.

It can also be minced and added to sauces, marinades, or as an herb for grilled meats.

The flavorful oils of lemongrass are fragrant and strong and add a hint of citrus to food, or the oil can be extracted to spice up deodorants or air fresheners.

Some common recipes are Thai curry, beef stew with noodles, and roast spatchcock.

For a great recipe using lemongrass that also has healing properties,, check out Healing Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup from Robust Kitchen.

As mentioned above, lemongrass also has several medicinal benefits. 

Medicinal Uses:
Treats digestive tract issues, rheumatism, stomachache, high blood pressure, and common colds. Lemongrass is also a natural relaxant and helps calm nervous issues.

Where Can I Find Lemongrass?

Often, local health food stores or farmers markets carry lemongrass stalks or dried lemongrass.

Whole Foods
carries lemongrass regularly, and it can also be found on Amazon. Any Asian market should also carry fresh lemongrass.

produce-at-farmers-market

Where Does Lemongrass Grow?

Lemongrass is native to India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand.

However, lemongrass is easy to grow, so long as it's kept from the cold. It adds a rich and lemony scent wherever it's grown, so it can be a great addition to any herb garden. 

Due to its tropical origins, if lemongrass is grown in the United States, it can only survive in the warmest regions.

This makes a nice indoor plant because the aroma is fresh and citrusy. Keep in mind, if the cold kills off the lemongrass, it will not grow back.

How to Propagate Lemongrass at Home

Is Lemongrass Toxic to Dogs?

corgi-dog

Lemongrass can be toxic due to the plant's cyanogenic glycosides and other oils. 

However, to be lethal to dogs, they must ingest large quantities of the plant. On the other hand, the scent is not only non-toxic to dogs, but it also helps to repel fleas.

If dogs ingest a large amount of lemongrass, it will cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Again, this only happens if dogs ingest a large quantity of lemongrass. If there are any concerns, it is best to contact ASPCA poison control.


How Do You Prepare Lemongrass?

stalks-of-lemongrass

The base of lemongrass should be trimmed and peeled, and the outer harder layers should be discarded.

If the lemongrass is to be used whole in broths or stews, it should be crushed with a rolling pin or knife to release the aromatics. 

If lemongrass is used in marinades, soups, or stir-fries, it should be cut into fine rings to release its flavor.

The process is similar to working with green onions. Crushing and finely cutting lemongrass releases the lemony aromatics and flavor, adding a unique flavor and scent to food. 

Is the Entire Lemongrass Plant Edible?

Only the lower bulb of the lemongrass plant is edible, but the entire plant can be used for aromatics.

Lemongrass is tougher than leeks and should be cut accordingly.

Another option is to remove the outer shell after cooking, which makes it softer and easier to peel.


What are Good Substitutes for Lemongrass?

bunch-of-lemons

There are substitutes for lemongrass, and although there are quite a few, they should be citrusy to the smell and always fresh.

  • Lemon zest

  • Lime zest

  • Lime leaves

  • Basil (with a hint of lemon zest)

  • Coriander

  • Preserved lemon


Conclusion

Lemongrass is an exotic and lemony herb that is used for many purposes.

The flavor is similar to lemon, but it also adds an earthiness to soups, marinades, and meats.

Lemongrass is often used for aromatics, and the scent is clean and refreshing.

Let us know your favorite recipes that include lemongrass! 

Jason

About the author, Jason

Jason Phillips is a recipe developer, culinary arts graduate, and coffee connoisseur. After culinary school, he cooked professionally for a while and published a cookbook his chef instructor advised him to write. Jason has a passion for culinary arts and coffee and is always looking for new, innovative recipes. He loves creating chef-quality meals that are also simple to make so that any home cook can do the same.

Jason’s cookbook is The Sea Cook: Recipes and Tales From The Galley. The book chronicles his journey as a cook onboard offshore tugboats and the places he has traveled.