Lemongrass Recipes

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Grilled Eggplant Salad with Lemongrass Vinaigrette + A Giveaway! Recipe

Even though eggplants are available all year-round, they reach their peak during the summer. I was at the store today, and the skin looked very shiny and pretty on the Japanese eggplants, so I picked up several. I made Indian eggplant dip, but since I still had a few leftover, I decided to have some fun with them. Since these were Japanese eggplants, I made an Asian salad flavored with lemongrass and Thai basil.

First, I salted the eggplants to extract moisture from the vegetables and reduce their bitterness. A quick trip to the grill, and the eggplants were ready to eat. To give the salad dressing an Asian twist, I used lemongrass, sugar cane vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and wasabi for a little heat. I added some crunch to the salad with crushed peanuts. How easy it that?

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Vietnamese Lemongrass and Chili Chicken Recipe (Ga Xao Xa Ot) Recipe

Lemongrass chicken (cơm gà xào xả ớt) is a very delicious and easy Vietnamese meat dish to prepare. To start with, the chicken pieces are marinated overnight to guarantee optimum tenderness. The next day, I prepare a mix of spices made of finely chopped lemongrass, sugar, chili and salt. The dish is completed by combining and sautéing the ingredients in a fry pan.

I love the fragrance and taste of lemongrass. It has hints of sweet lemon and a touch of ginger. It really adds a distinctive flavor, but this dish can easily be ruined if the lemongrass isn't ground properly into a fine, moist powder. It’s important to take time to thinly slice the stalks of lemongrass before grinding them.

In case you’re interested, growing lemongrass is very easy. All you need to do is trim it often. My husband Lulu planted 4 "bushes" of lemongrass a few years ago. I gathered 4 stalks from the garden and made both lemongrass tofu (tàu hủ xả ớt) and lemongrass chicken for dinner tonight. The plants are quite prolific, and if you use a lot of lemongrass in your cooking, it’s worth planting some in your garden.

Note: Glossary of relevant Vietnamese cooking terms.

Thịt = chicken

Thịt = meat

Cơm = rice

Xào = stir fry

Ớt = chile

Xả = lemongrass

Tàu hủ or Đậu hủ = tofu


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Bun Bo Hue Recipe (Hue-Style Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) Recipe

If you're familiar with phở, bún bò Huế is another beef rice noodle soup. The beef soup dish originated in the city of Huế, the old imperial capital of Vietnam. Like traditional phở bò, the broth of bún bò Huế is simmered with beef bones and Asian spices such as ginger, but the similarities pretty much end there. The real difference is that the broth is finished with lemongrass and red chiles.

I made a very basic soup with thinly sliced beef shanks, but some people are more adventurous and add pig knuckles, congealed pig blood called huyết (which I do not like), and serve shrimp paste on the side as a condiment. I garnished the soup with the commonly used bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro and raw sliced white onions, thinly sliced purple cabbage and shredded iceberg lettuce. Purple cabbage makes sense because it most closely resembles the texture of banana flowers, which are traditionally included in bún bò Huế. The taste is obviously different though.

Once the dish is prepared, everyone should roll up their sleeves and commence slurping down the bowl of beef broth in front of them. This is not a subtle dish; your taste buds will be bombarded with sweet, savory and spicy flavors. My mouth waters just thinking about it!


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Kale with Homemade Pickled Ginger Recipe

Kale with pickled ginger is one of the healthiest and tastiest ways to get a meal packed with iron. I made my own pickled ginger and an Asian-inspired salad dressing with lemongrass, miso and sesame oil. The result is the perfect condiment for boiled kale.

The reason I've been trying to make iron-rich meals lately is that my sister-in-law, Sunny, was diagnosed with iron deficiency. It's a fairly common problem that primarily affects women. She had trouble with the iron pills, so it was suggested to us that we make her foods that are rich in iron. Because of this, I've been trying to cook more with kale.

If you have any suggestions, please do share! Sunny will thank you.


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Beef Hot Pot (Bo Nhung Dam, Shabu Shabu) Recipe

If you're a beef and seafood lover, this Vietnamese-style beef hot pot recipe is for you. Bỏ nhúng dấm (literally beef dipped in vinegar) is the Vietnamese equivalent of the Japanese dish called shabu shabu, but with additional seafood ingredients. The broth is made with coconut soda, chopped onions and tomatoes. On a separate platter, gather the raw beef, shrimp, baby squid and octopus, fresh pineapple, cooked rice noodles, bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets) and various aromatic herbs. The prep work is quite labor-intensive; you have to have a lot of company to make the meal worthwhile. The more, the merrier.

Place an electric hot pot in the middle of the dining table and let everyone dip and cook the beef and seafood in the fragrant broth and assemble their own rolls using the rice paper sheets. Dip the rolls in mắm nêm dipping sauce. It's made of fermented fish paste, which is very strong. If fermented fish paste is too overwhelming, you could ultimately use nước mắm chấm (fish sauce) or soy sauce (nước tương chấm) for a milder flavor.

Vietnamese beef hot pot is a very festive meal because it's fairly expensive and quite time-consuming to prepare. It's what one of my uncles would call "đặc biệt", or "only for special occasions" in English. On my Papa's side of the family in France, all my cousins (including me) married non-Vietnamese spouses but I can guarantee you they all know the meaning of the word "đặc biệt" (which means special). Whenever, we're invited to my uncles' homes, they offer a lot of đặc biệt meals. "Lulu, it's đặc biệt, you should try this, it's delicious!" as one of my uncle always says to my husband. So this recipe is dedicated to my uncle François, whom I call Chu Bay (Uncle #7. He's Papa's 7th brother and that's how you show respect in the Vietnamese tradition).

It's perfect for a winter meal and just in time for the Chinese New Year, which is coming very soon.

Bo Nhunh Giam Recipe with Picture


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