Spice Blend: Homemade Lemongrass Paste
Back in October, I featured a commercially produced Lemongrass in a Tube and, as readers may recall, I was not terribly impressed. Indeed, I was actually so underwhelmed by the product that, after just a couple of uses, I tossed it out. Anyway, I recently managed to grab some of the fresh stalks whilst in Ottawa and I decided to make a paste myself. The process is really quite simple and I thought I would share it with you here…
These are the stalks I purchased after having the tips and tough outer leaves removed. It is a little hard to tell in the picture, but each stalk is about 10 inches long or so. Together, the little bundle only cost me about a buck and a half and the yield was about the same as the quantity in the aforementioned tube product (which was about 7 or 8 dollars, as I recall).
I first chopped the stalks very finely with a kitchen knife. This yielded a little over a cup but, as you can imagine, the volume will diminish somewhat as it is further processed.
Salt is required in order to preserve the final paste, but it also has the added benefit of softening the rather woody fragments somewhat. I added a teaspoon to the chopped stalks (along with a half teaspoon of sugar for a little accent) and then let everything sit for about an hour to macerate.
I could have ground the lemongrass in a mortar and pestle (which would probably achieve a smoother result), but my mortar is very small and doing this amount a few tablespoons at a time would have been very time consuming. Accordingly, I went with my trusty mini food processor.
I added about a tablespoon of vegetable oil during processing to help things along, and, since lemongrass does not throw off a lot of ‘juice’, about a tablespoon of water as well. It actually took a good ten minutes of repeated pulsing to liquidate everything, but it still was quicker than doing it by hand.
The final result is not a completely smooth paste but, for most applications, that isn’t a worry. If it is an issue in some recipe or other, it will, of course, still be possible to use the mortar to completely grind whatever small amount is required.
The taste of this is certainly much better than the tube variety, but I am not entirely sure what sort of shelf life it will have in the fridge. My best guess is that it will certainly keep for a month and I rather suspect that it will go for longer. In the event that it turns on me far quicker than that, I will have to rethink the advisability of making a paste for storage and just go back to preserving whole sections of the stalks in brine as I did here. I’ll also let you know if it turns out that my preservation estimate was way off base…