z5By Elke Probkevitz

Lemongrass might fool you by its appearance, but it is not any old celery stalk. As its name gives away, lemongrass is a grass with a lemony taste. It adds a refreshing lemony flavor to dishes with a depth uniquely its own. It is an unassuming stalk that might not look so appealing, and is maybe even a little intimidating, but once you learn how to use it you’ll wonder why you’ve gone so long without it.

What it is. A stalk that looks similar to celery, lemongrass is an herb that imparts a citrus flavor to dishes. It is not easily digested but it is ideal for flavoring foods. It is a woody, thick stalk that needs to be broken down to incorporate into dishes, or can be added to a broth or liquid whole just to add flavor.

Health benefits. Not only does it add deep flavor, but it also has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that lemongrass can help fight flu and cold, aid in digestion, alleviate stress, help with weight loss, and clean the kidney, liver, pancreas, digestive tract, and bladder.

Selection and storage. Found in Asian markets and some supermarkets and farmer’s markets, lemongrass stalks should be firm, and pale at the root end and green towards the top. If they have brown tops, bad spots, or are dried out then they are not fresh. Store lemongrass in the refrigerator for one to two weeks, or in the freezer whole or shredded.

Preparation. Prepare the lemongrass by removing tough outer leaves, then trimming the top and bottom. To be used, the lemongrass should be bruised to release the aromatic essential oils. You can smash it, chop it finely, grate it finely, or pound it into a paste.

Uses. Lemongrass works well with vegetables like asparagus and peas, used to stuff into or marinate fish or chicken before cooking, or used in curries, soups, sauces, and stir-fries. It can even be used in sweet dishes like rice pudding or in simple syrups used for cocktails or drizzled over cake. Lemongrass is also used to flavor tea. v

Honey Lime Lemongrass Chicken Wings


2½ lb. chicken wings or drumettes

3 Tbsp. minced lemongrass

3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp. minced ginger

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. lime juice

2 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. sake

2 Tbsp. curry powder


In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for marinade together until combined. Add chicken and toss to coat with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Place wings on foil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip wings over and cook on the other side for another 20 minutes till browned and cooked through.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.

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