Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lemongrass: The search has ended

That's right, I found my beloved lemongrass. Any guesses where I found it? Yes, you over there, with the bad haircut. Er. I mean blue shirt. That's right! I found it in Salt Lake City! I knew that the Oriental Food Market on 7th East in Salt Lake city, just south of Trolley Corners, would have it. They always have it. I've never been there when they didn't. They do stock it differently now than they used to, though.

Yes, that's right. They keep it in the freezer. And look at it all! Do I have a problem with this? Not really. This means that they can order a lot at one time, and have plenty for me when I come to visit. It's a pretty hearty plant, not like lettuces and the like, and doesn't seem to mind the freezing temperatures. Bonus: they keep it on the top shelf, which means that is anything bad is going to drop onto it, then that's the least of your worries.

Jayce pointed out to me that a Brazilian market might also be a good place to find this beautiful ingredient. Apparently there's a very popular drink down there. If there were such a thing as a Thai market closer to home, then it would be the first place I'd look. Of course, the second place I'd look would have been a health food store. So, what does this stuff look like from the side?

It looks nothing like wheat grass, does it? I suppose in the photo it might look like something halfway between green onions and leeks. Closer inspection shows a thick base, and a thin woody stem on top. Plus, these things are a good 18 to 20 inches long. Well, mine are. Something you'll notice when cooking with lemongrass is that you plug your nose and try something infused with it, you don't really taste it at all. This is a very aromatic ingredient. I had to use a lot of it in my Fresh Ginger and Lemongrass Ice Cream, because cold masks flavor and aroma, and fat coats the tongue, making it even that much more difficult to taste it. Were you to use it for a tea or a soup, I think that you would need to use a lot less to be able to pick it up.

So head on down to Salt Lake (or wherever your closest Asian market is) and grab a few stalks. I think you'll find at least a couple of recipes in my archives that call for it. I think you'll be happy with it.


  1. Congrats on finding lemon grass. I have been searching for banana leaves to make some dishes from famed Brasilian chef, Ophelia's, cookbook. Any suggestions?

  2. In Salt Lake, you can find frozen banana leaves at the South East Asian Market on 9th south and about 5th east. Unfortunately, that doesn't help you out in North Carolina, does it? I'm sure there are places online that sell it, and you'll probably want to get it frozen and have it shipped packed in dry ice. You might also want to look in your area for markets that specialize in southeast Asia.

  3. I will check the Asian markets. I kept checking Latin markets. Chapel Hill has lots of ethnic markets. I'll let you know if I find any. : )

  4. I think in Spanish it's called yerbaluisa (sp). I started drinking lemongrass tea with turbinado sugar when I lived in Ecuador. I don't think there's anything better on a cold day. Amazing stuff.


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