Lemongrass is a woody-stemmed herb used extensively in Southeast Asian cooking. Like galangal, it really cannot be substituted for anything else, but depending on the recipe, you can sometimes skip it. Luckily, lemongrass has gained a lot of popularity in the West and is now quite widely available at Asian grocery stores, and even in some non-Asian supermarkets. However, if you can’t find it fresh, you can definitely use the frozen variety, which comes conveniently cleaned and will keep in your freezer for months. In fact, if you find it fresh, grab a bunch, clean and freeze it for yourself in a bundle.
To use it, rip off the outer tough leaves, any of the flat, top leaves, leaving the pale stalk. For most recipes using whole stalks, it needs to be smashed to open up the stem and allow the fragrance out. I use a rolling pin and give it a bash or two.
Lemongrass is definitely easy to grow from a fresh stalk, and I’ve done it successfully in a pot on my roof. The only problem is that my cat adores it, and keeps eating all the new, succulent shoots before I have a chance to use them. Here’s a link on how to grow lemongrass at home. How to Propagate Lemongrass from Store-bought Stalks