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Why Use Lemon Grass if it Taste Like Lemon?

Some recipes call forlLemon grass but it taste pretty much like lemon, if that is the case why use lemon grass when you can simply squeeze lemon into your recipe? As you can guess I don't use recipes that call for lemon grass often. Thanks

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  1. I don't think they taste alike at all. I love lemongrass, and grow it, so I use it frequently.

    1. I agree with weezie, they don't taste alike at all. If you have an Asian market nearby, consider buying a stalk of lemongrass and experimenting with it. I use the inner leaves to steep in everything from hot soup and iced cocktails and grate the soft tubers for stir fry but my favorite use is to clean the stalk well and pare it down to a swizzle stick for iced tea and iced fruited teas.

      1. Lemongrass SMELLS like a citrus. 
        It doesn't really TASTE lemony; maybe like a light citrus with some heat.
        Even if it did taste just like lemon, it doesn't have the acid or the curdling properties of lemon. 

        See if you can sample Greek avgolemono soup and Thai Tom Yum soup-- Many grocery stores have both in their deli sections. This should awaken your palate to lemongrass and the differences. 

        1. Lemongrass smells like lemon, but definitely doesn't taste like lemon.

          1. Agree with all the above - definitely does not taste like lemon to me at all. I buy it and use it often. I can get about 5 stalks for 25 cents. It is certainly an inexpensive way to add amazing flavour to a dish.

            1. Lemongrass and lemons are both delicious but they certainly are not interchangeable. Lemongrass has a spicy, herbal, potently fragrant quality that permeates whatever it's in. It's very heady and complex. It doesn't really have a good "tastes-like" comparison -- get your hands on a few stalks and give it a shot in some Thai recipes. It's delightful.

              2 Replies
              1. re: LauraGrace

                Thanks everyone for your input. I suppose the smell of both the lemon and the lemon grass and the names of the two products just gave me the impression they taste the same. I've had both Greek avgolemono soup and Thai Tom Yum soup and I can taste the difference. So I see what you mean Kris. I like both those soups. So from that I now know the difference in taste and that's what gives each their unique flavor.

                Thanks everyone!

                1. re: HoundDogz

                  Tom Yum is usually finished off with lime juice so that gives it acidity. Maybe that's the flavour that you are mistaking for lemongrass?

              2. Just a quick other thing about lemongrass:
                Like Kris said: It doesn't have the acid in it, and that makes it very nice if you want to make a lemony marinade for fish as normally the acid already cooks it !
                I got lots in my garden and use it on a regular base :)

                2 Replies
                1. re: butzy

                  SO it's like lemon flavor without acidity... I kinda know what that means.... (not trying to sound "foodie") but lemon without that "bite"?

                  Does it "cook" the food the way that an acid could (like a brine or something or lime juice on a ceviche)? Or can I just cook the food normally after a marinade in lemongrass(saucey status)?

                  1. re: Tiffness23

                    Without acidity, it cannot denature the proteins in meat/seafood the way lemon juice can. But I find the flavor of lemongrass blends in better with the flavor of the overall dish. I actually dislike the taste of lemon-aside from a tiny sprinkle on broiled or fried seafood- but I like the taste of lemongrass. Much milder to me than lemon.

                2. In addition to lemon grass there is lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon basil

                  these herbs all smell lemony but all have different citrus notes but are different

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jpr54_1

                    I find lemon verbena much closer to lemongrass than lemon, and it contains some of the same flavour notes, accoring to "On food and cooking".