Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Multi-Cultural Guest in the Garden

The hard to distinguish weedy growth in the picture below is actually lemon grass also known as lemongrass or Takrai—native to the Far East and an important ingredient in their cuisine. Who knew it could grow in the Chicago area?

Lemon Grass is primarily grown in India, Indonesia, and South East Asia—thus yesterday's hint, sari. As it has become more popular, it is now grown in tropical and subtropical climates in other parts of the world, as well. In warmer climates lemon grass is a perennial that can grow to over six feet tall and produce clusters of green flowers tinged with red. In cooler climates it will not over winter, nor will it grow as tall or produce flowers. However, it is easy to grow and tastes fine in my Zone 5 location. I especially enjoy lemon grass in hot and sour soup or paired with coconut milk in a variety of Thai recipes. If you do buy or grow it, remember it is much like a green onion—use the lower white part and only the very tender part of the green. gg.

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