Lemon grass

 Lemon grass Key facts As the name suggests, lemon grass adds a wonderful citrus element to curries and other Oriental dishes. To use it, remove the outer papery layer and the top part then chop it into pieces. You can also bruise it in a pestle and mortar to release its flavours. In Thailand, lemon grass tea is often served chilled, with plenty of ice as a refreshing soft drink.

The British have always taken quickly to the flavours of the Orient. Thai cooking, in particular, has grown enormously in popularity and thus introduced us to the fragrant stalks of lemon grass.

It's not exactly a lemon flavour, but the strong scent is noticeably citrus. When you buy lemon grass it looks uninviting but the flavour is sublime. Added to a very English summer fruit compote, it gives a marvellously new dimension and I've also used it to create a very different Vichyssoise.

 
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