Fresh Thai Lemongrass Salad
Lemongrass is one of my favorite herbs. It’s used often in soups, curries, and tea in Asia. It is very difficult to eat as is, and is used more for flavoring. You can easily make lemongrass tea by soaking a stalk of lemongrass in hot water. If you’re a fan of juicing, try throwing a stalk of lemongrass into your masticating juicer for not only great additional flavor but health benefits as well. Lemongrass can be eaten though, as long as it’s chopped small enough for easier chewing and digestion.
The health benefits of lemongrass are extensive. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, helps digestion and digestive problems, reduces LDL cholesterol and helps prevent plaque build-up in your arteries, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal to help with colds, anti-inflammatory and pain reliever (you can even use it topically for this), among many others.
In Thailand, fresh lemongrass salad is a common dish. Not really a street food, but in fancier restaurants you’re bound to see ‘yum ta krai’ on the menu. This translates to ‘salad lemongrass’. Often its served with either ground meat or shrimp, but if you’re vegetarian you can ask for it ‘mang sah wi rat’, and it will be served without the meat or seafood. Typically the lemongrass will be mixed with peanuts, shallots, fresh mint, or even ginger. Lemongrass salad tends to be a spicy dish, with small chunks of red or green Thai chilies chopped up throughout. The chilies are easy to remove if you don’t want too many, or if you don’t want any at all, make sure to tell the server.
If you don’t have the luxury of ordering this dish in Thailand, you can easily make it right in your home with just a few fresh ingredients. The perfect lemongrass salad would be a little spicy, a little sweet, and a little sour. Work with the ingredients to your taste.
What You Need:
Handful of fresh Lemongrass stalks (6 stalks)
2 small shallots (or red onion)
2-3 cups of chopped cabbage
1/2 cup fresh scallions
Peanuts, cashews, seeds (any or all combination – up to you. I recommend peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds)
Fish sauce (optional)
1 cup Fresh Mint
1 cup Fresh Cilantro
Fresh bean sprouts (or other sprout) – optional
Fresh chilies or chili flakes (optional – if you want spicy)
If you want a larger product, use more lemongrass stalks as well as all other ingredients. The amount of each ingredient is really based on your preference. Also, if you don’t have one of the fresh ingredients, you can still make this dish.
1. Remove outside layer of lemongrass, cut off bottom inch and the thin green section at the top (could be up to 6 inches). The more lemongrass stalks you have, the better, because a lot is waste. Thinly slice the remaining part of the stalk.
2. Chop your cabbage into small slices (not chunks)
3. Thinly slice 2-3 shallots, if you want more add it.
4. Thinly slice fresh scallions.
5. Mix the sliced ingredients together in a bowl. If you are adding sprouts, do so here. They are optional.
6. Wash fresh cilantro and fresh mint. You can either put the leaves in whole or you can chop them, up to you. Add to your mixture.
7. Gradually add lime juice and stir. Taste and decide if you want more. Possibly up to 1/2 cup.
8. Gradually add fish sauce and stir, up to 2-3 teaspoons
9. Drizzle some honey in and stir.
10. Don’t add your peanuts, cashews, or seeds right away, they will get soft. Add them on top at the end, right before you eat, and mix thoroughly.
11. Salt and fresh black pepper. Salt especially if you don’t use fish sauce. Fresh chilies for spice or chili flakes if you want.