I have been using Lemongrass for years. It imparts an complex citrus flavor to soups, curries, and meat dishes. It comes in the market as a long fibrous grass full stalk more than a foot long, or sold in the fresh herb section with the bottom root end. Most recipes call for using the bottom part of the lemongrass stalks, but when I went to The Spice Merchants in Kerry Town, they were selling the green grassy tops in dried form for marinades, and teas. As best as I can tell, lemon grass is not eaten, but use like an infused herb like say bay leaf.
Emily has become a big fan of chewing on the fresh intense lemon flavored grasses. When I starter thinking about eating more locally, I thought lemongrass, a plant from India, and use in my favorite Thai Coconut soup was out. But you never know what can be grown in Michigan until you try. So I bought a few lemon grass plant at the farmers market, and grew them last season. It is a tropical plant, and would have done better in a green house, but I managed to get a good crop. The stalks were not as thick as what you see in the store, but they still worked well in soups.
Here a link on where you can get the seed. I got my plant at the Ann Arbor, Michigan Farmers Market which was a lucky find.
Thai Coconut Soup: serves 4-6
2 Cans of Coconut Milk
2 Cups of chicken stock
2 five inch stalks from the bottom of the lemon grass, brushed,
1 pound of chicken breast, small strips
1/4 fresh shiitake mushrooms sliced into strips
2 inch piece of ginger (or Galangal) slice thin
5 kefer Lime Leaves
Juice of 6 limes
6 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Thai curry paste
garnish with cilantro
1 1/2 cups of white jasmine rice (cooked)
Add the chicken stock, one can of coconut milk, the ginger or galangal, and the lemongrass to a pot. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the lemon grass and the ginger/galangal. Add the other can of coconut milk, the chicken, fish sauce, lime leaves, and mushrooms. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Crush the chili paste with some of the soup liquid to make a thin paste and stir into the soup. Add the lime juice and taste. Adjust the soup with more lime, chili paste or fish taste as desired.
Place a scoop of rice in a bowl, ladle soup over the rice and garnish with cilantro leaves.