You’re here because you’re probably wondering just what lemongrass is or because you’ve seen it in an Asian recipe you wanted to try out. You’re also searching to see if there is any lemongrass substitute you can use because let’s be real, lemongrass is not an ordinary ingredient you would find in a common grocery store.
We understand why you must have lemongrass if you’re to cook that delicious Vietnamese grilled chicken or that mouthwatering Indian curry you saw on TV the other day. Without lemongrass, most Asian food would taste dull. This plant has such a distinct aroma, and citrus and minty flavor that just makes food more exotic and savory. But don’t fret about where you can find them because even without fresh lemongrass, we’d still be able to replace the taste and smell of this popular plant.
5 Lemongrass Substitute
What to substitute for lemongrass? Lots! There are ingredients in your local grocery that you may use to replicate this plant. Below are a few you can use:
1. Lemon Zest, Juice or Leaves
Lemons are found in most grocery stores that you won’t have a hard time finding this fruit. The citrus and tangy taste of lemon are similar to lemongrass that you can easily use the fruit as a replacement.
Lemon zest is mainly used. But if you’re wondering can lemon juice be substituted for lemon zest? The answer is yes! Lemon zest may be the closest substitute. But it is followed by lemon juice (real fresh squeezed lemon juice than the bottled ones), and the lemon leaves last. You may just choose one of these to use in your dishes rather than combine all three.
Lemon leaves go last in this list because using it is quite tricky. The leaves may mess up your dish since they’re oily. Besides, you would rather be well off in finding lemon zest or lemon juice easily. You wouldn’t normally find lemon leaves being sold in stores unless you own a lemon tree in your backyard.
2. Kaffir Lime Leaves
Kaffir lime leaves are commonly used as enhancers for citrus flavors already present in food. But it’s still considered a lemongrass substitute because apart from the leaves already having a citrus taste, Kaffir also has a minty taste. It is also recommended to combine Kaffir lime leaves with lime juice for a stronger and distinct flavor.
When using Kaffir, you must remove the leaves from its midrib before adding it to the dish. The leaves are not eaten as well, so you can just remove the Kaffir lime leaves before serving.
3. Coriander Stalks and Ginger
Two common ingredients you can find at the supermarkets that can be substituted for lemongrass are coriander and ginger. To be precise, use coriander stalks rather than the leaves since the stalks have more flavor.
Ginger, on the other hand, gives you that nice hot and zesty flavor that’s similar to lemongrass. The taste may not be on the citrus side but on how pungent it is to the palate. Remember to use fresh ginger than powdered ginger for a more authentic taste.
Combined, both the coriander stalks and grated ginger make for a close lemongrass substitute.
4. Dried Lemongrass
Most grocery stores won’t carry fresh lemongrass but the chances of them selling bottled dried lemongrass are high.
Dried lemongrass has a much stronger and concentrated herbal taste so it’s best to use just a small amount of it. It still gives off the same minty and citrus aroma.
5. Lemon Zest and Arugula
You already know why lemon zest is a good substitute for lemongrass. How about if arugula is added?
Arugula has a peppery and nutty flavor that’s similar to mustard. You’ll feel a kick of spice in your taste buds when you eat it, especially when you take a bite out of their stalks. It’s popularly used as a pizza topping. But arugula is also used in salads and other dishes.
When you combine lemon zest and arugula, you’ll get that citrus and strong peppery flavor that’s reminiscent of how lemongrass tastes like. Remember not to get aged arugula since they may taste bitter and destroy the flavor of your dishes.
Lemon Grass: What Is It?
Lemongrass is a plant that’s commonly grown in Asia, India, Australia, and even Africa. It has a citrus flavor, but is also minty with a strong herbal aroma. Lemongrass looks a lot like ordinary tall grass that it’s even mistaken as such. If it wasn’t for the smell of it, no one would guess that it’s lemongrass.
The stalk of the lemongrass is mostly used in cooking, although some Asian recipes call for the whole thing. Take for example the popular pork roast in the Philippines called Lechon. They simply stuff the pork with a bunch of lemongrasses tied together to eliminate the gamey smell of pork and make it taste deliciously tangy.
In other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, lemongrass is used in marinades, curries, soups, noodle dishes and even in teas.
How To Plant Lemongrass
If you want to try lemongrass but can’t seem to find it, you may plant it in your backyard. It’s easy that all you need is a pot, any drained soil, and your lemongrass.
You may buy a pot of this plant, or root a few stalks of it in water if you already have them. Both can be purchased in Asian grocery stores. Do note that this plant is sensitive to the cold weather, so you can plant this in spring until summer because it needs a good amount of sun. You may harvest the lemongrass once it starts developing thick stems. Keep it frozen in a re-sealable bag to store if you have leftover leaves from harvesting.
If this is too much work for you and you’re wondering where to buy lemongrass, you can order them online, or visit any Asian supermarket.
Lemongrass Health Benefits
Lemongrass is not only tasty. They’re healthy too. There are several known health benefits to lemongrass. Below are the following:
Do note that though these are health benefits, lemongrass should still be taken in moderation.
Asian Dishes That Use Lemongrass
There are a lot of Asian dishes that use lemongrass. It’s probably the most common ingredient in this type of cuisine. You’ll love how it tastes zesty and tangy in your mouth that will make you crave for more.
You can use fresh lemongrass or lemongrass substitute for the following dishes:
The next time you ask "What can I use instead of lemongrass?" just visit this guide again and check out the substitutes on our list. Have more Asian cuisine in your own home with just a simple lemongrass substitute. Turn your dishes livelier, savory and exotic with these substitutes that will make you feel as if you’ve traveled all over Asia without leaving your kitchen.
Have you tried any of these substitutes? Which ones did you prefer? Let us know!