Use the pale lower end of the stalk which can be chopped finely, or bruise the tougher green part of the stem with a pestle, if larger pieces are called for.
Lemongrass can be used in curry pastes, stir-fries, and soups. The stems can be up to 60 cm long so trim the bae, remove the tough, outer layers and finely slice, chop or pound the white interior.
For pastes and salads, use the tender, white portion just above the root.
The whole stem, trimmed and washed thoroughly, can be added to simmering soups and curries and removed before serving.
The flavour of fresh is far superior to dried.
Red Vegetable Curry
Prep time 25 minutes & total cooking time 20 minutes
225 g bamboo shoots or tips (drained if from a can)
2 cups (500ml) coconut milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 medium potatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground nutmeg
200 g pumpkin, roughly chopped
2tsp dried shrimp
150 g green beans, cut into short pieces
12 large dried or small fresh red chillis, roughly chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 cup spring onion or Asian shallots, chopped
3 small zucchini, chopped
2 tabs oil (try olive, rice bran or coconut)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
4 stems lemongrass (white part only), finely chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
12 small cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander roots & 2 tbsp fresh coriander stems, chopped
3 tsp soft brown sugar
6 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
2 tsp grated lemon/lime rind
2 tsp turmeric
black pepper and salt, to taste
Cut the bamboo shoots in half, discard the tough ends and set shoots aside. Combine the coconut milk, water and curry paste in a large wok or saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and kaffir lime leaves and allow to boil for 3 minutes
Add the potato and pumpkin to the wok and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes, or until the pumpkin is nearly cooked. Add the beans, capsicum, and zucchini and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water if the curry is too thick. Add the bamboo shoots and basil. Season with fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar.
Serve with steamed rice.