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Walnut Creek Magazine

What's in Season: Lemongrass

Mar 24, 2017 03:07PM ● By Cale Finta



When life gives you lemongrass…make meatballs.

This Southeast Asian grass is a tough, leafy herb with tempting fragrance. It’s floral without being cloying, lemony without being tart. This easy to grow perennial is happy in full sun. If gardening’s not your thing, look for this special herb at local farmers’ markets or local grocery store.

Lemongrass is delicious in all kinds of recipes. Lop off the spiky tops and peel away the tough outer layers of white stalk. Crush, slice, or mince the five inches of pale bottom, and lemongrass will reveal itself. It works especially well with garlic, onion, and ginger, the flavors that often partner with it in recipes.





(4 Servings)



1 lb. ground turkey (or substitute with pork)

1 lemongrass stalk, bottom 5 inches only, smashed with rolling pin, then minced

1/2 C. chopped shallots

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

2 T. fish sauce

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper



1 lemongrass stalk

1/4 C. fresh lime juice

1/4 C. fish sauce

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

2 T. grated carrot

4 tsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. minced green Thai (or serrano) chile

2 T. vegetable oil

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated

1 small Persian cucumber, thinly sliced

Meatballs: Keep meat chilled while making lemongrass paste. Combine lemongrass, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining ingredients in a food processor; pulse until paste forms. Add chilled turkey or pork, pulse to blend. Shape mixture into 24 balls. Place on baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to a day.

Dipping sauce: Cut bottom 3 inches from lemongrass. Smash with rolling pin, then mince. Measure 1 T. salt into a bowl then add lime juice, fish sauce, cilantro, carrot, sugar and chile to a bowl; whisk until sugar dissolves.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs; brown until cooked through, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Arrange lettuce leaves and cucumber on platter with meatballs. Allow guests to assemble at table and drizzle with dipping sauce.


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