Cooking with lemongrass is very pleasurable. Once you smell the aromas of fresh lemongrass, it is really hard not to get excited by what you are cooking. Lemongrass is a fragrant herb used in many cuisines. However, it mostly appears in Eastern Asian cuisines like Thai and Vietnamese.
I am not sure what these two cuisines would do if the world suddenly ran out of lemongrass, as it’s truly a vital ingredient. Nevertheless, it’s quite handy to know about these 8 lemongrass substitutes. These lemongrass substitutes might just save your recipe that calls for lemongrass.
Depending on the type of recipe you are cooking, you’ll need to opt for a specific lemongrass alternative. Keep reading to find out more about which one of these lemongrass substitutes are the best for you.
Lemongrass is a tropical plant that belongs to the grass family. Cymbopogon is lemongrass’s scientific name, but it carries several additional names. So although it’s best recognised as lemongrass, you might also know it as: barbed wire grass, citronella grass, fever grass, serai, tanglad, silky heads, hierba Louisa and more.
Lemongrass is most popular for its resemblance to the scent of lemons and tangy citrus aromas. Therefore, the lemongrass substitutes must have notes of citrus flavour as well.
Visually, lemongrass is a light green, thick stalk that has several ‘grassy’ layers. A lemongrass stalk simmers well in curries, soups, teas and phos where the lemongrass releases most of its citrus flavour.
You can also cook with dried lemongrass or lemongrass powder, which can also be added into food instead of using the fresh lemongrass stalks. Lemongrass is also made into a paste and also makes up various Thai curry pastes. However, making lemongrass paste can be quite the challenge because the lemongrass doesn’t blend or blitz well.
Lemongrass is a fragrant herb that is very distinct and brings out a wonderful citrus flavour. If you can’t find any fresh, dried or ground lemongrass, then you can consider the following lemongrass substitutes.
Lemon zest is the closest lemongrass substitute in terms of texture and flavour. The best part is, that you can control the amount of zest you use to control the level of acidity. So, lemon zest is an excellent lemongrass substitute in a vegan pad thai recipe as the zest will give this recipe a nice lemony kick.
Lemon juice is also one of the best lemongrass substitutes. I highly recommend adding the juice of lemon into liquid lemongrass recipes.
If you haven’t got fresh lemongrass stalks or lemongrass powder, use the juice of a lemon to flavour your green thai chicken curry. This way, you will not alter the consistency of the curry.
There is nothing better than a silky Thai curry. You can also apply this technique to red thai curry. If you are wondering what’s the difference between red vs green thai curry, click here for a detailed explanation.
substitute with sudachi
Perhaps only a few of you have heard of the sudachi citrus. Also having a Japanese origin, sudachi is often used as a substitute for limes and lemons in cooking.
It is a very suitable substitute for lemongrass, too. It’s also very often used as garnish and seasoning to enhance seafood dishes.
other herb substitutes you should know about
If you cook often with herbs and spices, you might also want to check out these:
Make sure your kitchen is stocked with some substitutes just in case you find yourself in a difficult situation. There is nothing worse than finding out you are missing a spice in the middle of cooking a recipe.