Preparing authentic Thai or Asian cuisine dishes from scratch sometimes means learning how to process unfamiliar foods. The lemongrass plant is an essential ingredient in many of these ethnic dishes that some home cooks and even professional caterers may not know how to prepare on first glance. But this woody plant with the lovely fragrance and light, exotic taste doesn't need to confound severely. The popularity of Thai food means that fresh lemongrass is becoming more available at supermarkets, but you may need to shop at a market specializing in Asian foods to find it in your area.
Things You'll Need
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
Cut the bottom end of the stalk off and discard.
Chop off the tough, green blades at the top of the plant, leaving only about a 6-inch, pale-white piece of the plant. The blades are lovely and aromatic but incredibly tough and would not work well in your dish. They will steep well for tea if you don't want to just throw them away.
Remove two outer layers of the plant. Lemongrass is similar to leeks in that the best part of the vegetable lies underneath the layers. The heart of these plants can be used directly in your dishes and eaten without problem. The outer layers can be used in broths, sauces or in a roaster for aroma and flavor but need to be removed before serving.
Thinly slice the heart of the lemongrass and chop or mince to your liking. Some chefs like to smash the plant with flat blade of their knife to release the oils, making the herb more fragrant.
Keep any remaining fresh lemongrass in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep for about a week. You can also freeze it for longer preservation.