An easy way to add zest to any dish, especially chicken or seafood, is to use lemongrass.
The flavour is zingy, aromatic and lemony. Used whole, the flavour is more subtle, while finely chopping or pounding intensifies its flavour. Look for fresh lemongrass in the vegetables section of the supermarket, with the fresh herbs. Choose stalks that feel firm and heavy with no bruising. Store fresh lemongrass in plastic bags in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze in sealed bags for a month. Use whole, sliced or pounded or processed to a paste.
To use whole, slice off the end of the stalk and remove any dried-out layers, then bash the top end with a rolling pin to soften and release the aromatic oils.
Add to slow-cooked curries, stews and soups or flavour whole fish by placing just under the skin. Remove whole sticks from dishes before serving.
When chopping or pounding use only the bottom half of the stalk. Slice off and discard the rest. Chop finely, pound to a pulp in a pestle and mortar or whizz in a processor. Use chopped or sliced in marinades for chicken and fish, and in stir-fries and curries. Alternatively, make knife slits across the surface of a chicken breast or fish fillet and push bits of lemongrass into the flesh. Drizzle with lime juice, fresh chopped herbs, a little oil and a sprinkling of chilli flakes, then barbecue or grill.
Make a simple dressing by mixing finely chopped lemongrass and lemon or lime juice with a little oil and reduced-salt soy sauce. Add finely chopped spring onion, chilli and fresh coriander and dress a crispy salad, veges or noodles. Yum!
Check out some healthy, delicious Healthy Food Guide recipes with lemongrass here.