Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon)
This is normally found growing in tropical countries. It has a strong citrus scent similar to that of lemons, which is why it is named lemon grass.
Lemon Grass is a herb that is commonly used in Asian cooking. It can be used fresh in the Asian countries because it is easy to buy or grow there. This herb is fantastic cooked with seafood, poultry, beef, pork and fish. It is also a key ingredient in many Thai curry pastes. When making these pastes all the herbs and spices are often smashed together in a pestle and mortar or they can be blended in a food processor.
Anti fungal- This herb has many medicinal benefits as it has anti fungal, anti bacterial and anti microbial properties.
Cholesterol levels- Due to its anti hyperlipidemic and anti hypercholesterolemic properties, studies show this can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Cancer- Research conducted shows this herb may be effective in stemming the growth of cancer cells, due to a chemical compound contained called citral.
Vitamins- A, B, C, Folates
Minerals- Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc.
So how to use fresh lemon grass?
First you need to cut the base off from the root end. This needs to be about one inch lengths, and then boil these with the other ingredients. If using in a curry paste then the lemon grass needs to be blended with the other herbs and spices. If using in a salad then you will need to use only the tender parts as the rest will be too woody.
I am going to use lemon grass in a Massaman curry. This is a fairly mild Thai curry and is simple to cook. It is normally served with rice so don’t forget to start cooking the rice before you start!
2 x chicken breasts skinned and sliced finely
3 x medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1” chunks
1 x onion cut into 1” cubes
1 small hand full of unsalted peanuts
250 ml coconut milk
250 ml water
1 x packet of Lobo Massaman curry paste.
Take a medium to large pan and place it on to a medium heat. Pour the coconut milk into the pan and bring to the boil. Once boiled turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and add the Massaman curry paste, giving it a good stir until totally dissolved.
Now add the chicken and stir in. Add the potatoes, onion and water and bring back to the boil, turning down to a gentle simmer again. Leave to cook for 20 minutes. Add the peanuts and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Add 1 teaspoon of fish sauce and stir. Now give it a taste. If needed, add more sauce, but be careful as it is a very salty sauce.
Serve with some steamed rice.