In recent years, lemongrass has become much more widely available in the western hemisphere, allowing for the creation of more authentic Asian dishes. In western supermarkets, lemongrass is usually available in the produce section in an already finely minced paste sold in plastic tubes.
In Asian supermarkets, lemongrass comes in a larger variety of forms, ranging from its entire original stalk to finely minced and even thinly sliced (the latter two usually packaged in small plastic tubs). Nothing can substitute the refreshing and light essence of lemongrass though some cooks substitute lime rind when necessary.
Widely used in Asian salads, soups and curries, lemongrass is also known as a digestive aid and powerful cleanser of toxins. When working with fresh lemongrass stalks, it’s important to peel off any outer layers that may be wilted or slightly browning. A great way to extract the most intense flavor out of the stalk is to use a heavy knife or a meat pounder to gently bruise the thicker parts of the stalk, breaking it open slightly.
Stored properly in a sealed container or ziplock bag, lemongrass can last indefinitely in the freezer. Older generations of Asians use lemongrass as a congestion reliever by adding it to boiling water and inhaling the steam.