8 Substitute For Lemongrass Hacks-Check Out #2
Lemongrass is a unique herb, a tropical island plant of the grass family. Common in the dishes and cuisines of Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam, it adds a zing to your meals- an intense herbal and citrus flavor, and pleasantly indescribable scent.
Many people enjoy tea made from lemongrass.
This herb’s flavor is uniquely complex. The flavor is citrusy because it is more like a mix of lemon and lemon mint, without being overpowering, with a slightly sharp and tangy taste to it, without the bitterness of a lemon. It provides authenticity to cuisines.
Lemongrass is known by various names, depending on where and how it is used. These include citronella, fever grass, serai, barbed wire grass, silky heads, tanglad, and hierba Luisa.
Thai food makes use of lemongrass in traditional dishes and it has an elegantly subtle citrus flavor that compliments the ethnic foods. Commonly used in soups, teas and curries, lemongrass is most commonly used in dried and powdered form, but may also be used fresh.
In Africa, countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Togo frequently use lemongrass in teas. This is also a popular use for this herb in Latin American countries such as Mexico. This herb is the perfect complement in beef, seafood, fish and poultry as well as vegetables. It gives a lovely citrus flavor that is light and aromatic when used in almost any dish.
Though native to Southeast Asia, lemongrass has become so popular worldwide that it is now cultivated in a wide variety of locales including the United States.
Did you know you can also make Lemongrass juice? Yes you can.
There are various ways of making juice like blending, but for this one, you make it by boiling the lemongrass with ginger and sugar and then cooling it.
Benefits of Lemongrass- Besides The Kitchen
This herb is not only versatile in its culinary uses, it has a wealth of essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for healthy functioning of our bodies. These include Vitamins A, B1, B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), C, Folates, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Manganese.
Lemongrass is known to have immense health benefits and medicinal uses, as it has antioxidant, antifungal and antibiotic properties.
This herb is closely related to citronella, a well- known component in insect repelling candles, oils, insecticides and shampoos. The fresh and tangy citrus aroma of lemongrass makes it a wonderful natural fragrance that is commonly added to cosmetic products and soaps, deodorants and even perfumes.
Can You Substitute Lemongrass?
Having fresh lemongrass readily available is pertinent if you are preparing authentic Southeast Asian dishes. But what if you’re out of the herb and there is none is available in the local stores around you? You don’t have to give up on your pursuit of culinary happiness. Seasoned cooks do not either. Thankfully, though the herb’s complex flavor is not easy to replicate, there are some options available when it comes to substitution.
As a cook, or chef, you know that there’s always room for experimenting with herbs to produce unique flavors and tastes. It’s not always done by the book. So too for lemongrass. Your dishes don’t always have to taste similar to lemon, you can find a replacement for this unique flavor.
Great news, right? The things you can use as lemongrass substitute are readily available, most likely in your spice rack, refrigerator, or the nearest store or market.
Substitutes For Lemongrass
Depending on the season, these availability of some lemongrass substitutes may vary, so be keen on what you can easily access, or buy and store for future use. You will also need to be careful about the portions of the substitute that you’ll use, as you do not want to overwhelm your dishes with extremely strong flavors or scents.
To guide you with the portion sizes, I will indicate the lemongrass equivalents. For starters, one small trimmed stalk of the herb is equivalent to one teaspoon of sereh powder, or one tablespoon of dried lemon grass, both in their dried forms.
To get the equivalent of the herb’s flavor profile, these are the best substitutes you can use for your dishes.
This may be your best option for lemongrass substitute, primarily because lemons are quite easy to find all year round in your local market or store.
To recreate the tangy citrus taste similar to that of lemongrass, grate some fresh lemon zest (the exterior part of the lemon) into your dish. The zest from one medium sized lemon is equivalent to two small stalks of lemongrass.
Bring out your creative edge by replicating the herbal notes of lemongrass with arugula, which has a peppery taste. Mix a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest with a single arugula leaf. This gives you the equivalent of one stalk of lemongrass, perfect for fish stew and broth.
Kreung (Lemongrass Paste)
A combination of shallots, galangal and crushed lemongrass, Kreung is a lemongrass paste from Cambodia that is another good alternative to use in numerous dishes. One tablespoon of Kreung paste is equivalent to a tablespoon of chopped fresh lemongrass.
It is sold in squeezable tubes that make it suitable for frequent use and safe storage. You can purchase Kreung paste online, in Asian food stores, or other grocery stores that sell Cambodian food supplies.
Dried lemongrass is a great substitute for fresh lemongrass recipes, especially meat and poultry dishes that have a sauce base.
This dried alternative has a higher concentration of herbal and citrusy flavor, so go easy on your dishes. You would only require a small amount, as one stalk of fresh lemongrass is aptly substituted by one teaspoon of dried lemongrass
Keffir lime leaves
Keffir lime leaves are citrusy, and are used whole or torn to remove the midrib, and added to dishes to produce a citrus aroma that is close to that of lemongrass. If you wish to enhance the citrus flavor especially in soups and curries, you can combine the leaves with lime juice and lime zest, or lemon juice and lemon zest. For every stalk of lemongrass needed in your recipe, the substitute equivalent is one keffir lime leaf, one tablespoon of lime zest, and two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Keffir lime leaves are not edible, so these should be removed before you serve the dish, the same as you would remove a bay leaf. You can find these in most Asian grocery stores and specialty grocery shops.
Fresh Coriander and Ginger
For zesty and aromatic soups and broths, you can substitute one stalk of lemongrass with two teaspoons of coriander stalks and two teaspoons of fresh ginger root, crushed or minced. Do make sure that your ginger is fresh- firm with a soft skin.
Coriander stalks have a uniquely intense flavor compared to their leaves, so they are a better substitute. Fresh ginger root has an almost similar flavor to lemongrass, sweet and pungent. This combination produces a flavor that is almost similar to lemongrass, and is ideal in the Thai style curry pastes that I oh- so- love.
Lemon balm is another great alternative to lemongrass. Suitable for your desserts, four lemon balm leaves are equivalent to one stalk of lemongrass. Lemon balm leaves have a delicate citrus flavor and aroma. These are chopped and ideally added towards the end of the cooking process, as you need to retain their delicate flavor.
Lemon balm is readily available in the herb section of local stores and supermarkets, in dried or fresh form. Try them as your substitute when preparing lemon curd tartlets.
This herb has a lemon-like flavor, almost similar to lemongrass. They give the much desired zing from lemongrass, but with a less succinct flavor and aroma
Two leaves of lemon verbena give you the equivalent of one stalk of lemongrass, and is ideal for sauces, savory cakes, and curries. Chop or tear the leaves finely, or use them whole, and add to your preferred dish to release the flavor properly. Remember to remove the leaves before serving… just like a bay leaf.
The simplest way to add a citrus flavor to your dish is by adding plain lemon juice, freshly squeezed, as a stand-in for lemongrass. You should measure it carefully as too much could throw off the other flavors in your dish by making it overly acidic.
Use fresh lemon which is slightly soft with a thin skin- this will give you the most juice.
Leaves from the lemon tree (when lemon are not in season) are also a good substitute, giving you both the herbal and citrus notes similar to lemongrass. You will remember to remove them before serving your dish?
When your recipe calls for using lemongrass and you have none, do not panic. With the above lemongrass substitutes, you will find one, or a combination, that works best for you in recreating your delectable dishes.
It is a good idea to grow a lemongrass plant in a small pot in your balcony or front porch. It grows well in all types of soil and requires very little care.
Alternatively, you could stock up on fresh lemongrass whenever you find it and freeze it for future use.
If you liked this, I bet you will love my review of the Best Blenders for Green Smoothies here.