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Enjoy lemongrass

May 17, 2012

Learning about South East Asian foods is to better understand that maxim: “food as medicine” – and often it’s the herbs and spices that are the medicine – not the main ingredient. Culinary lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)[i], for example, contains citral, responsible for the strong lemon scent and anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Lemongrass also provides VIT B5, B6, B1, folic acid, and numerous minerals.

 A native of southern India, lemongrass is a grass-like herb that grows in clumps up to three feet and has bright green leaves with sharp edges. One of the simplest ways to enjoy lemongrass is to steep it as an herbal tea, or combine it with black tea leaves for a refreshing pick-me-up. Jayantha, a wife, mother, grandmother and Montessori school director who loves to cook for people said she doesn’t need to add sugar to black tea when she steeps it with lemongrass leaves.

Lemongrass is widely used in soups, stir-fries, marinades and curries, and can be a flavoring base in pickles.  Tom yum soup is a traditional Thai dish made with lemongrass and you can find a recipe here.Also try Creamy Lemongrass Ice Creamfor the summer months. Check your local farmers’ markets for lemongrass, particularly from the Hmong growers.

[i] Another species of lemongrass (Flexuosus citratus) is dominantly used in the perfume industry.

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