The fresh stalk of the lemongrass is the only part used in Thai cuisine. This plant is also popularly used as a culinary herb in Southeast Asian cuisine too.
Lemongrass called ตะไคร้ (pronounce: Takhịr̂) in Thai, having a scientific name as Cymbopogon Citratus (DC.) Staph, is an annual plant which is high about 1-1.5 meter, has long-narrow leaves and is native to tropical Asia such as India, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. In Thailand, this plant is commonly grown in kitchen gardens throughout the country and popularly used as a culinary herb in Southeast Asian cuisine and medicinal herb in India. Only the lower and lighter green proportion of its stalk is used in Thai cuisine.
Tom yum soup, one of the popular Thai dishes, could not be made without the lemongrass, the plant that has a subtle citrus flavour. When making tom yum soup, the lemongrass stalks are probably either finely sliced into thin slices to favour someone who like to eat these or cut into lengths so that diners can remove or push aside them prior to enjoy the soup.
The fine slices of the stalks are used as a predominant ingredient in making a spicy salad called yum takrai, a spicy salad with which minced pork, dried shrimps, cashews, peanuts, shallot slices and spicy salad dressing are combined together. This is very famous for Thais who are spicy food lovers.
The fine slices are also popularly deep-fried until just golden-yellow and crisp. These are spread over some Thai deep-fried dishes as garnish. Moreover, this edible-crispy garnish also enhances aroma and flavour.
In making most of Thai curry pastes, the lemongrass stalks are also an essential ingredient. Prior to make, the stalks are finely sliced to ease while being struck with mortar and pestle to grind.
Happily, the lemongrass stalks are now available in Asian stores and regular supermarkets. Look the stalks up that seem flexible and not too dry. The leftover stalks can be wrapped and store in a fridge for a few days.