Lemongrass is a tall tropical grass. The fresh stalks and leaves have a clean lemonlike odour because they contain an essential oil, which is also present in lemon peel.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass
The grass is considered a diuretic, tonic and stimulant. It promotes good digestion, and a preparation of lemongrass with pepper has been used for relief of menstrual troubles and nausea. It induces perspiration, to cool the body and reduce a fever. It is well known a mild insect repellent (citronella) and the essential oil is used in perfumery.
Preparation and Storage
If using fresh lemongrass, use only the lower bulbous portion of the stem. It can be pounded and used whole or cut in slices. When using the ground powder (sereh) use one teaspoon as an equal to one stalk of fresh. It is advisable to soak dried sliced lemon grass for two hours before using. When wrapped in a paper bag, lemon grass stems can last 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. The stems can also be frozen for several months. Always wrap and store separately, as lemon grass will impart its flavour to other foods.
Cooking with Lemongrass
Lemongrass features in Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan and Indian cooking and is widely used in savoury dishes and meat, poultry, seafood and vegetable curries. It harmonizes well with coconut milk, especially with chicken or seafood, and there are countless Thai and Sri Lankan recipes exploiting this combination. The stems are also used in teas or used in pickles and in flavouring marinades.