Friday, April 12, 2013

Ingredient 14 - Lemongrass

This week I opted to cook with lemongrass because I had a hankering for Thai food.  Lemongrass is a native grass of Southeast Asia and a popular ingredient in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.  As the name suggests, the grass has a mild citrus flavor.  Lemongrass is a staple seasoning for savory dishes, like curry and soup, and is also the source of lemon flavor in herbal teas.   
When purchasing lemongrass, look for stalks that are firm.  The bottom of the stalk should be pale yellow and the top should be green.  Avoid stalks that have browning leaves.

Pork and Lemongrass Meatballs in Lettuce Cups  
Adapted from Epicurus
Serves 2 to 3 as a meal

1 lb ground pork
1 lemongrass stalk
1 shallot
2 tbp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbp fish sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 tbp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Dipping sauce:
1 lemongrass stalk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbp coarsely grated carrot
4 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp minced green serrano pepper 
2 tbp vegetable oil

For serving:
20 Butter or Romaine Lettuce leaves
1 cucumber thinly sliced

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Begin by making the meatballs.  Prepare the lemongrass by removing out the outside leaves and cutting off the very bottom of the stalk.  Keep the bottom 5 inches.  Roll over the remaining stalk with a rolling pin or wine bottle to help release the grass’s flavor.  Dice the lemongrass, shallot, and garlic and place it in a food processor or immersion blender with the fish sauce, cilantro, sugar, and white pepper.  Combine ingredients into a paste.

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Place pork and lemongrass paste in a bowl and combine with hands.  Make 12 to 18 meatballs.

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Place meatballs in freezer and begin making the dipping sauce.  Prepare and chop another lemongrass stalk, following the guidance provided above.  Chop the cilantro and de-seed and dice the serrano pepper.  Grate 1 large carrot or 4 to 5 baby carrots.  Place the lemongrass, carrot, cilantro, and serrano in bowl with the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and oil.  Mix with a whisk and set aside. 
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Once the sauce is finished, remove the meatballs from the freezer and heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet, medium high heat.  Cook the meatballs for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every few minutes.  I covered my meatballs for the last 5 minutes to ensure doneness. 

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When the meatballs are finished cooking, plate them with the lettuce leaves and sliced cucumber.  To enjoy, place cucumber and meatball in lettuce leaf and top with sauce.

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I really enjoyed this dish.  The lemongrass did not produce a strong flavor, but the dish did not lack flavor.  If you want to add heat to the sauce, don’t de-seed the serrano pepper.  I will be making these meatballs again for sure.  Overall grade A-. 


  1. Looks so yummy!

    Yer Sis

  2. Hi Katie, Thanks for adding me to your blog. Love the comments, pictures, food choices so far. Nicely done! Jake