In this article, we will talk about the five incredible substitutes for Lemongrass to enrich your home recipes!
Imagine your Vietnamese friends pulling over at your house on a Saturday afternoon. Seeing an opportunity, you decide to impress them with your cooking skills.
You opt for a Vietnamese barbecue with lemongrass marinade. However, upon inspecting your kitchen, you don’t find a shred of lemongrass. So, what now?
Well, if you want to indulge your Southeast Asian friends or indulge a craving, you should stick to the plan, find an alternative spice, and prepare the dish anyway.
Pulling off this trick successfully would certainly leave them in awe.
In this article, we’ll present some practical solutions for all those suffering from frequent lemongrass shortages. These elements are useful ingredients in their own right, too, enriching whatever recipe you decide to feature them in.
Read on to find out how you can surprise your friends, as well as yourself, with these lemongrass substitutes.
LEMONGRASS TIP: In the future when you find fresh lemongrass. You can cut it up into smaller piece and freeze them. This way you can grab a chunk when your making your favorite curry!
1. Dried Lemongrass
If you run out of fresh lemongrass, you can substitute dried lemongrass if it is available.
Once correctly applied, they give almost the same effect. Dried lemongrass has a lemony flavor with a note of ginger and menthol. Compared to fresh lemongrass, dried lemongrass has a more concentrated hint.
Though dried lemongrass often goes into herbal teas and beverages, you can also use it in soups and curries. Plus, it goes pretty well with meat, and stews too.
The difficulty with dried lemongrass is that you have to cook it for a long time before the flavor is extracted. But once it does it’s beautifully aromatic and flavorful.
2. Lemon Zest
Even when everything in the kitchen seems to run out, at least some lemon is usually preserved.
Thankfully, it accounts for a lot more than just being sour. In fact, you can use the lemon zest as a substitute for lemongrass. It works just as well.
Lemon zest has an intense flavor with a sparring taste of bitterness. The bitterness comes from the white pith of the lemon. Therefore, while zesting the rind of the lemon, make sure not to grate the white pith since that would be counter-productive. In that state, lemon zest cannot substitute for lemongrass.
You can use lemon zest to flavor desserts such as lemon ice cream, lemon meringue pie, and sponge cake. It also works for savory dishes like seafood or pan sauce for grilled beef.
3. Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena has an intense flavor and can easily overpower your dish if you overuse it.
But if used sparingly, it could be the perfect substitute for lemongrass. Lemon verbena has a modestly sweet and herbaceous flavor with a distinct hint of lemon. Hence, measured amounts of it can be reminiscent of lemongrass.
The lemon-scented herb, is an easy addition to your herb garden. Chefs often incorporate it into savory dishes or even fruity desserts. Seasoning poultry dishes and soups with it is also a common practice. Lastly, it can go in lemon ice cream, too.
4. Kaffir Lime Leaves
Kaffir lime leaves have a strong citrus taste and aroma.
Some describe its uniqueness as a mixture of mandarin, orange, lemon, and lime.
You can utilize these leaves in fresh, dried, or frozen conditions. Whichever way, they can contribute when cooking raw and sauteing. Also, kaffir leaves are commonly used for soups such as tom yum, sour shrimp, curries, fried rice pastes, etc.
Instead of consuming them wholly, kaffir lime leaves are steeped and removed from the food. Kind of like a bay leaf. As such, you can even add their aroma to desserts like custard and ice cream.
5. Japanese Yuzu
As the name suggests, Japanese Yuzu is a winter citrus fruit quite popular in its native country.
Yuzu’s “flesh” is edible, like that of an orange, with a taste not as sour compared to lemons or grapefruit. Its rinds find essential uses in several world cuisines. It is also a good substitute for lemongrass in recipes.
Japanese Yuzu combines grapefruit, lemon, and mandarin flavors, giving it a citrusy and tart taste. Due to its acidity, yuzu pairs well with some traditional ingredients like soy, matcha, and ginger. Thanks to that content, yuzu is a requirement for many savory dishes.
The Final Squeeze on Substitutes for Lemongrass
A good home cook knows how to make the best of what’s available. No ingredient is useless, and often, it hides some surprisingly tasty properties.
Luckily, cooking is a type of science intended to bring all food aspects forward.
So, when low on lemongrass, remember the wise words featured in this article. Then, go ahead and choose any of the substitutes detailed above.
It is only by experimentation that you’ll find out which ones go best in a given situation. Bon appetit!