Are you looking for a good lemongrass substitute?
Right from the start, these lemongrass is pretty common in Asian delicacies, specifically in the recipes of Southeast Asian regions. They are flavor and scent enhancers, which makes them a pivotal ingredient for a myriad of cuisines.
Once lemongrass is added to a particular recipe, its overall undertone and fragrance enhance dramatically. If you are used to lemongrass, you immediately know the difference between a dish without this ingredient from a dish that has one.
However, despite the given availability and commonality of lemongrass, it is still undeniable that is a situation where it will go amiss in your kitchen. If that happens, you might need to seek other alternatives.
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What Is Lemongrass?
First, you need to know first the overall nature of lemongrass. It is in this part where you will gain a useful understanding of this particular ingredient. If you know the traits or uses of this herb, then it would be easier for you to find replacements for it.
Trust me. It is as essential as learning what to substitute for lemongrass.
When we say lemongrass, it only refers to a herb that has a shrub-like appearance. It also has a distinct aroma and tang that is almost similar to lemon. In most tropical countries in Asia, lemongrass is native and almost perennial. In these regions, there is no scarcity in this ingredient. You can also find the lemongrass to grow in some of the subcontinents in India.
Lemongrass can be used as either fresh or dried. Aside from being used in delicacies, you can see lemongrass being utilized in herbal teas and other medicinal drinks. Needless to say, lemongrass is also filled with health benefits. It can sustain your body with some crucial nourishment.
If you are going to cook a recipe that requires lemongrass, you have several options in your hand. You can use it raw, powdered, or dried. Popular cuisines in Asia have versatile uses for this herb. Stews and soups are among the perfect recipients for lemongrass.
Overall, the pungent but lemony flavor of lemongrass makes it a distinct herb. You can also notice the strength of its floral tang that is suited for savory dishes and beverages. It is not surprising anymore if some people say that lemongrass has similarities to citronella. After all, these two plants are entirely related to one another.
Check out this video if you want to learn how to grow lemongrass in your own backyard:
Lemon Vs Lemongrass
Both the lemon and lemongrass have their respective flavors and scents. Even if they have "lemon" in their names, this doesn't mean that they are derived from the same plant.
Specifically, the lemon is taken from the tree called Citrus limon. This particular tree can go as tall as 15 feet. It is said that these trees were originally cultivated in Mediterranean regions. Noticeably, the Chinese history also speaks of lemons being grown of some of their lands.
Meanwhile, lemongrass is its own plant. It has a scientific name of Cymbopogon citratus and originated in India and many parts of Asia. It is a herb but has the appearance of ordinary shrubs.
Although it is true that lemon and lemongrass are different entities, they are still similar when it comes to some uses and properties. Some of their compositions are the same. For instance, these two contain limonene terpenes, citronellal, and citral aldehydes. Furthermore, you can use as treatments because of their antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
What can I use instead of lemongrass?
This question has been bugging some people. As I said, for people who are living in areas where lemongrass is abundant, this matter is not an issue. However, if you are residing in Western countries, you might have difficulties in finding these lemongrasses.
One way or another, I deem that lemongrass has a unique scent and flavor. Not all herbs there can replicate the qualities of lemongrass. If you have tried the lemongrass before, you probably know what I am talking about.
Fortunately, not all hope is lost here. Just like any other ingredients in the kitchen, the lemongrass has some replacements, too. Therefore, if you found out that you don't have this herb in your fridge or pantry, the following substitutions can rescue you.
1. Lemon Zest
Keep in mind that both lemon and lemongrass share distinct similarities and differences. As a result, there are always methods so that you can use these two interchangeably.
Lemon can be substituted for lemongrass. That's a fact. However, there's a little work that you need to do here. After all, what you are after here is the ground zest of the lemon. You would need to grind the lemon zest until such time you can get the zest, which has the same lemony tang as the lemongrass.
I have heard people asking the question "1 stalk of lemongrass equals how many tbsp of lemon zest". I got curious about this and did some testing in the kitchen by myself. Eventually, I found out that the proper approximation for these two ingredients is not that difficult to measure. For me, one teaspoon of ground lemon zest is equivalent to one lemongrass stalk.
Meanwhile, lemon juice is not exactly your best bet when it comes to a lemongrass substitute. However, in some cases, it could really work. Lemon juice possesses the same flavor and aroma of lemongrass. Extracting the juice from raw lemon is pretty easy, so there's nothing that you should fret here.
2. Kaffir Lime
The leaves of the Kaffir lime are typically used as a substitute for lemongrass. The primary reason for this is the existence of the citrus and minty flavor within the leaves of the plant. When added to dishes, Kaffir lime leaves become undeniably noticeable and palpable. You can also use the leaves of the plant to improve the citrus tang of your food further.
There are some approaches to elevate the citrus flavor of Kaffir lime and make it a better alternative for lemongrass. One of these methods is combining lemon juice with the leaves.
However, you might not want to eat the leaves of the Kaffir lime. If this is the case, what you need to do is to remove the leaves from the dish before eating it. Also, let me emphasize that the fragrance of the Kaffir lime has a semblance to lemongrass. It is one of the reasons why it is an excellent alternative for the said herb.
The Kreung is actually a paste made from lemongrass. This particular paste originated in Cambodia and can provide the same citrus and lemony tang as the lemongrass. Aside from the lemongrass content, the paste also have galangal and shallots. These are some native herbs that produce earthy and slightly citrus undertones.
Of course, since it is only common in Cambodia and most parts of Vietnam, getting Kreung in your kitchen might be a tricky task. Fortunately, there are online retailers that sell the paste.
If they are not available, you can try searching your local market and stores for ordinary lemongrass pastes. While it is true that the regular lemongrass may not be as "potent" as Kreung, it is still a decent substitute for the fresh lemongrass leaves.
The lemongrass stalk to paste conversion is simple. For every stalk of lemongrass, you need a teaspoon of the paste.
Here is how you can make your own Kreung!
4. Coriander And Ginger
Because it is quite difficult to replicate the unique tang of lemongrass, the best option that we have here is to combine some ingredients and hope for the best. Based on the characteristics of this herb, it is possible to use a combination of ginger and coriander as a substitute.
For a single stalk of lemongrass, you need to combine two teaspoons of fresh ginger and two teaspoons of fresh coriander stalks. Do not use the leaves of the coriander as its stalk has better flavor.
This particular mixture works well when making broths and soups. They can also be used as a garnish to some Asian delicacies.
5. Dried Lemongrass
Of course, dried lemongrass works well as an alternative to fresh lemongrass. A single stalk of lemongrass can be replaced by a teaspoon of its dried counterpart. The good thing about dried lemongrass is its availability. They are present in various stores and local markets. You can even order them online!
One should know that the flavor of an ingredient intensifies or gets concentrated once it has been dried. Because of this, you might still need to regulate the use of dried lemongrass in your recipes. In this way, your tongue won't experience too much citrus.
Drying lemongrass is easy. This video can teach you that!
These are the best lemongrass substitutes that exist right now. They should be able to match or replicate the flavor and scent of lemongrass whenever the latter is not available. You would be surprised that these ingredients can produce the same effect to the food or beverage that you are preparing. Of course, I am not saying that the overall appeal to the senses is the same. But at least, these alternatives can work the way you expect them to be.
That's it for now. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!