Lemon Grass

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Cymbopogon citratus, a perennial grass of tropical Asia and other warm climates, which grows abundantly in suitable conditions. It is valued for the lemony flavour which its stalks release when crushed or chopped, and is often used in fish cookery and curry dishes. Its alternative name is citronella.

Dried lemon grass stalks are available, as is lemon grass powder. These can be used but fresh stalks are much better. The fibrous leaves are used, fresh or dry, to brew a herbal lemon tea.
A popular dish in Thailand consists of crabs steamed in a special earthenware pot, with lots of lemon grass. Those who have become accustomed to using it lavishly in SE Asia find it hard to believe that it has not come into wider use in those parts of N. America and Australia, and elsewhere outside Asia, where it grows.