In cooking, we know that herbs are good for our health as it has long been related to medicine since the beginning of the European Middle Ages.
Herbs go well in the cooking. It makes the dish taste better and enhances the colour for growing appetite.
Locally, we have lots of herb to be eaten with rice but name herbs such as lemongrass (serai), ginger (halia), galangal (lengkuas), turmeric (kunyit) and garlic (bawang putih) are some of the important and must-have ingredients in the cooking.
We use them to make our side dish taste better accordingly to the recipe.
This plant is look like weeds on the first glance but if we go nearer it has difference.
The leaves at the top is like weeds but the bottom part is a stalk. It is the stalk that we use for cooking by removing the leaves.
In Malaysia, we grow lemongrass in our backyard as it is easy to grow on any kinds of soil.
This is known as Serai Makan in Malaysia. For those who has no area, they can plant it in the pot by putting the black soil in it.
If they have no time to plant, lemongrass is widely and easily available in the market or grocery shop near by.
Lemongrass in cooking
Lemongrass can be used in many of Malaysian cooking such as Ayam Masak Merah, Masak Sayur Lemak and Boiled Cockles by pound the stalk of lemongrass.
Side dish such as Ikan Tiga Rasa, Rendang, Laksa Johor gravy and satay sauce, we need to blend it until fine to be mix with other ingredients.
Pound of lemongrass stalk can be used to cook rice such as Nasi Briyani, Nasi Minyak, Nasi Jagung, Nasi Tomato and Nasi Beringin.
The fragrance taste of lemongrass make the rice taste better.
Not only for cooking, there is another type of lemongrass known as Serai Wangi.
This fragrance smell of lemongrass can be used as an insect repellent.
The Serai Wangi insect repellents is non chemical and save to be used in kitchen.
It is an organic way to get rid of cockroaches and ants. Do not worry how to make it because this product had made available in the market by local company.
Another usage of Serai Wangi is to be used as an ingredient in ointment mean for a traditional massage.
The fragrance of the lemongrass in the ointment smells good. It also gives a smooth feeling when applying to the skin for massage.
(Note: Traditional massage need ointment apply on the skin to make it easy for massaging.)
Serai Wangi use as potpourri make your bedroom or bathroom fragrantly smell.
It is good for a bath for mother during confinement after giving birth.
Boil Serai Wangi, pandan leaves and henna leaves in big pot.
Mix these boiled leave water with plain water for bath in the morning during confinement.
It leaves fresh feelings after bath.
Preparing the lemongrass
When we first take the lemongrass from the soil, we usually cut the root of the grass and the leaves of the grass by keeping the plant bulb and stalk.
You have to be careful because the leaves has a sharp edges.
You have to maneuver your face while cutting the plant to avoid the leaves touch your skin.
If you do not want the sharp leaves scratches your arm, I suggest you wear a long sleeves shirt.
Well, this is not a procedure to take the lemongrass but a precaution to avoid being scraped by the leaves. It worths your effort.
I usually use the pestle to pound a bit of the bulb so that the juice will flow from the plant before placing it into the pot for cooking side dish such as Boiled Cockles.
It makes the cockles taste better than the one you just put salt in boiling water. Lemongrass together with onion and garlic make the boiling cockles producing aromatic flavour.
For storage of the lemongrass
Buying lemongrass in large quantities and unsure how to keep it?
The problem is the seller always sell the lemongrass in large quantities and we have to pay for the large amount while only one or two stalks we use for cooking at that particular time. Well, how about the rest. Do we have to let it rotten?
Don’t worry, there is a solution not to engage with the wastage.
What you can do is, slice the lemongrass into small round pieces and use the food processor to cut the lemongrass until fine.
Then keep it in the container. In this version you can store it for a longer period in the freezer. This cut lemongrass can be used for one month.
The frozen lemongrass make your work to cook one step easier.
If I want to use it in cooking such as Ayam Masak Merah and Rendang, I usually take three to four teaspoon of processed lemongrass and mix with other ingredient such as galangal, onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric to process.
Then sautés the ingredient in the wok to make your Rendang authentic taste put it in the cooking.
For Ayam Masak Merah take two teaspoons to be mixed with grind dried chillies, onion, garlic and sauté. Add two tablespoon of tomato sauce, sugar and salt to perfect the cooking.
Lemongrass have significance roll as mixture of the ingredient. It make dish taste better with aromatic smell.
This herb is not expensive and easily available in the market.
It is must-have ingredient in rendang as our Malay signature food.
Not only in food, lemongrass perfect for aromatherapy for body to relax.