also known as lemongrass, barbed wire grass, silky heads, Cochin grass, Malabar grass, oily heads or fever grass, is a genus of Asian, African, Australian, and tropical island plants in the grass family. Some species (particularly Cymbopogon citratus) are commonly cultivated as culinary and medicinal herbs because of their scent, resembling that of lemons (Citrus limon). The name cymbopogon derives from the Greek words kymbe (κύμβη, 'boat') and pogon (πώγων, 'beard') "which mean [that] in most species, the hairy spikelets project from boat-shaped spathes."
If using fresh lemongrass, use only the lower bulbous portion of the stem. It can be pounded and used whole or cut in slices. When using the ground powder (sereh) use one teaspoon as an equal to one stalk of fresh. It is advisable to soak dried sliced lemon grass for two hours before using. When wrapped in a paper bag, lemon grass stems can last 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. The stems can also be frozen for several months. Always wrap and store separately, as lemon grass will impart its flavour to other foods.
The stalks (leaf bases) of the plant are commonly used to flavor dishes in Southeast Asian cooking. The heart of young shoots may be cooked and consumed as a vegetable. The tougher leaves are used to flavor dishes but are typically removed before serving. Leaves may also be used to make lemon grass tea. The essential oil extracted from the leaves is commonly used in insect repellents, perfumes and soaps.
Lemongrass is available year-round.