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Cooking with Lemongrass

Tomorrow night I'm making a dish that calls for, among other things, a pound of diced chicken, three minced shallots, five Thai peppers, 24 oz. of bamboo shoots and five stalks of lemongrass.

Now I have never used lemongrass in a dish before, and my question is, does five stalks of the stuff seem like a bit much? Perhaps not, but I am curious.

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  1. it sounds like a major flavor component. remember that you really only want to use the very inner part of the stalk.

    sounds delicious anyway

    1. Some people might ask a similar question when they see chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. The lemongrass flavor will probably be assertive, but perhaps with the other seasonings in the dish, it'll blend well. Don't forget to peel the tough outer layer, though.

      1. The lemon grass and the Thai peppers will definitely assert themselves in the dish, spicy and lemony. Sounds tasty to me. Are you using breast meat or thigh? I would think the flavor of the dark meat would balance the lemon and chili a bit better than white. Your call, though.

        Let me be the third to say that only the tender inner stalk should be used.

        6 Replies
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Breast. I just don't like dark meat. Funny that way.

          And incidentally, I'm thinking of halving this recipe. I mean 24 oz. of bamboo shoots? That's a whole lot of bamboo! Hence, 2 1/2 stalks of lemongrass, which sounds more reasonable.

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            I don't like dark meat either.

            You'd have to call the dish bamboo shoots with lemon grass and chilies and oh, incidentially, chicken.

            Yes, the inner stalks are fibrous so a fine dice is what's called for, as scubadoo mentioned.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              "You'd have to call the dish bamboo shoots with lemon grass and chilies and oh, incidentially, chicken."

              Yes. Exactly. The chicken will be practically an afterthought in this dish.

              And minced it will be, scubadoo.

            2. re: Perilagu Khan

              "2 1/2 stalks of lemongrass, which sounds more reasonable."

              That might be fewers stalks, but it will still be the same proportions.

              1. re: JungMann

                Of course. But my point was that in my original expression of amazement at "five stalks," I was not taking into consideration the overall size of the dish. Once I took that factor into consideration, that quantity made more sense. And more to the point, if the recipe had been halved to begin with, I never would have expressed any amazement. Ergo, 2 1/2 stalks sounds reasonable.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  Ah, got it!

                  Let us know how this comes out.

          2. sounds delightful! Lemongrass doesn't impart a huge amount of flavour per weight in the same way the chilli or schallots will. Five stalks seems about right to me.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

              What is the consistency of cooked, inner-stalk lemongrass? As ethereal as scallion, or more fibrous like celery?

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                even the inner most stalks are fibrous. When I cook with lemongrass to be eaten I dice it fine. When used just for flavor I smack the stalks with the back of a knife to break up the fibers and release the fragrant oils

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  utterly fibrous and inedible. Unless you grind it into a paste you're bettwer cutting it into pieces of a size reasonable enough for people to eat around. If I'm not making a proper thai paste, which I usually do with it, I usually slice it into small discs

                  1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                    Interesting. So lemongrass functions much like a bay leaf?

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      spot on. You simply can not eat lemongrass, it is awful and will ruin your palette and wreck your meal. So either pound it out into a paste or cut it large enough to eat around.

                      The Thai have a really compelling way of making a paste.

                      You start with the hardest to pound ingredients and finish with the easiest to pound. So you start with lemongrass, then galangal, then ginger and down through the consistencies until you reach shallots, it's about the feel and texture of the ingredients, but quite simple. Hard ingredients need more strokes of the pestle than soft ones.. I've never seen it written down well, but having seen it done is magic. And anyone who tells you to use a food processor is a liar. Without a mortar and pestle you're not getting close.

              2. Mind if I piggyback and ask a related question? What are some other good uses for lemongrass?

                Our farmers market is full of it now and I would like to give some a try.

                4 Replies
                1. re: karykat

                  I like to use it in sauce applications. Dice it super fine, and add it to a pan with about 1/2 cup good oil (I use olive oil). Bring the temperature up to the point that the lemongrass is sizzling, then take the pan off the heat. Leave it for 30 minutes to cool. Then, strain the oil through cheesecloth (I also squeeze it to remove all the flavour from the lemongrass) and reserve only the oil.

                  I like to use the oil in salad dressings, but it's also good when combined with shallot and fresh heirloom tomatoes and garlic and whatever fresh herbs you like and a little balsamic for a quick pasta sauce. Or combine it with couscous or quinoa or whatever you have on hand. Goes great with chicken and seafood.

                  I got the idea from a Gordon Ramsay recipe:

                  I wouldn't add more lemon to it though. That would be overkill. :-)

                  1. re: karykat

                    It is also used for infusions and tinctures.
                    For culinary uses look to Southeast Asian countries where it is used very commonly.

                    1. re: karykat

                      If you try some of the other suggestions and have a bit left over it is great to bruise with a knife and then toss in with the rice when you steam or boil. If the rest of the dish has lemongrass in it this adds an extra layer of depth, and otherwise it just tastes really good, but not too overpowering.

                      1. re: karykat

                        bruise a stalk and poor over boiling water for a tea, really really tasty. I very fondly recall a memory of a drink i had in Nortner Thailand which was lemongrass infused sugar syrup and soda water. No idea exactly how it's done, but I'm sure it would be reasonably easy to recreate.

                      2. hi, i didn't see your post right away and started a thread on lemongrass too. my homegrown lemon grass is very subtle - weak might be more accurate - and i've had to use alot. the stalks are a little wider than the diameter of cigarettes and for my green thai curry, i've used around two and a half feet in total length (pounded with ginger and turmeric). did you manage to extract a strong flavor from five stalks?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: epabella

                          Had a change of schedule. I will make the dish in question tonight.

                        2. Okay, here's the report.

                          To begin with, I unwittingly misled the Hound pack inasmuch as the dish called for 3, rather than 5 stalks of lemongrass, and it called for said lemongrass to be pureed, along with the Thai peppers and 3 shallots.

                          This dish was unusual, in that it was very soupy and was served poured over rice, much like a gumbo.

                          The Khantessa's immediate verdict was the the lemongrass was too assertive. Initially, I disagreed with her, but by the time I finished my second helping I came 'round to her way of thinking. The lemongrass was, indeed, a bit overpowering.

                          Even still, the dish was quite good and has the potential to be very good. Next time I'll use only 2 stalks of lemongrass and add an additional Thai pepper. If the lemongrass is still too intense, I'll probably circ-file that recipe.

                          Thanks for the input, y'all.