Monday, May 16, 2016

How to Use Lemongrass (teabags) and chilli pepper leaves.

Recently I got hold of several boxes of lemongrass teabags.

Lemongrass is a Southeast Asian ingredient (grass family) used for both culinary or medicinal purposes. It gives a 'lemony', herbaceous taste to a dish. 

Old folks back home (not my old folks though) prescribe it for cleaning the artery of fat and cholesterol to have a normal blood pressure. They also say it cleanses out sugar in the blood. 

Now please do not believe me on these; I do not claim it works but making this plant into a tea is more of a rural activity in the Philippines and nobody died yet just because "of a lemongrass overdose". 

In cooking, it is used by giving a fresh taste to a dish. Just like screwpine (pandan) leaves, it is also used to infuse steamed rice by folding it several times crosswise, tied with another single lemongrass leaf then place at the bottom of the uncooked rice before cooking.
No fresh lemongrass? Just use lemongrass tea! 3-4 bags of lemongrass tea can infuse your Southeast Asian soup (usually broths) or stew.

Here simmering together with some wild-caught pigeon/squabs (from our backyard!), coconut milk, ginger, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Give the bird a light char first (by roasting, pan frying or by direct heat on the grill, etc...) then throw all the ingredients in the pot; cover with lid to simmer.

Chili pepper Leaves (Labuyo, Jalapeno, Serrano, etc...) in cold water.

 When the pigeon/squab are tender, add the chili pepper leaves and also a couple of chili peppers. Cover. Do not stir to avoid popping the peppers. Remove from heat after 5 minutes. Add a dash of coconut water vinegar (regular vinegar is okay) and stir. Cover again to cook for another 5 minutes. Enjoy with steamed rice or by itself.

Note: the most popular way of using chilli pepper leaves (the hot ones, not from bell peppers) in the Philippines is a brothy stew called Tinola. For most Americans and anyone not familiar of brothy, Asian soups-this is a bland, clear-brothed (ha?) soup-stew. The flavors of this dish comes out actually when garnished with slices of hot chilli peppers, kalamansi (lemon) juice and fish sauce.