One tablespoon of lemongrass paste. What?? I was looking at a new recipe for vinaigrette. Now, I’ve eaten fresh lemongrass in Vietnamese dishes. It’s light and citrusy, like a mix of lemon and lemon mint. But I’d never used, or even seen, the paste.
A Multipurpose Plant
As I read more, I learned that this simple dressing can be used on salads, in Buddha bowls and tea, and over rice.
The plant’s many fans claim it cures everything from heartburn to high cholesterol. What’s more, it’s packed with vitamins and minerals. Lemongrass is also used for landscaping, weight loss, insomnia, and as a body massage. Hmm. . . I may have to plant some this spring for those features alone.
The Key Ingredient
In addition to the lemongrass paste, the recipe called for fresh honey, lemon juice, olive oil, and red pepper—all of which I had on hand. But without the key ingredient, I set the recipe aside until I could track down the paste.
The Search Begins
Then one evening I noticed lemongrass in one of the dishes on a restaurant menu. I inquired of the server if the cook used the paste.
“No, we make our own. I make my own, too,” she said, with no little pride. “I cut off the ends, peel back the outer layers, and crush the inside layers in a blender.” Impressive. But unlike our server, I didn’t want to make the paste from scratch—I only needed a tablespoon, for heaven’s sake. If a simple and quick alternative was available, I wanted to find it.
I scoured the Internet and found that Amazon offered the exotic ingredient in a small, but expensive jar. I checked Global Foods in Kirkwood. They had fresh lemongrass, but not the paste.
To my surprise, I stumbled upon it at Schnuck’s! There it was, hanging out in the produce section along with the packaged, fresh herbs, playing hard to get.
This Gourmet Garden version comes in a 4-oz. tube, much like toothpaste, and shows two basic ingredients: lemongrass and organic canola oil. One tablespoon paste equal 1 tablespoon of fresh lemongrass.
Now Where Did I Put That Recipe?
It took a while, but I uncovered the recipe, that I’d put aside for want of lemongrass. Being a food blogger, I keep recipes all over the house, in my car, pockets, and purses so my search was not confined to the kitchen. I found it tucked into a cookbook, a place where cooks are known to stash loose recipes.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
I’ve since found a variety of recipes for lemongrass vinaigrette. Some call for soy sauce and fresh ginger. Others swap out the lemon juice for lime juice; maple syrup for the honey. One of interest, added a tablespoon of Thai fish sauce. But I was quite pleased with the version below.
- 3 Tbs. honey
- 3 Tbs. lemongrass paste
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- dash red pepper
Whisk to combine. Makes 3/4 cup.