These days, I try to stock up on lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves when I shop at the oriental store, making sure I never run out of them. Lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves freeze well so it is great to have them at hand as it is a staple in most south-east asian food. Lemongrass itself has multiple benefits. This natural ingredient has anti-cancer properties, high in anti-oxidant which also helps prevent cancer, reduces cholesterol, helps rid of cold and fever, and many more benefits. The juice of lemongrass is also used as insect repellent. I know this because each time I visit Tropical Spice Garden in Penang, the staff there would have us spray lemongrass juice on our bare legs and arms. There are lots of mosquitoes hidden between those tropical bushes so to prevent from leaving the garden with dozens of mosquito bites, bare with the smell and spray them all over you if you are going anywhere near a tropical forest or garden. It does help you enjoy the beautiful surroundings than to be annoyed being bitten by those tiny evil creatures.
HOW TO MAKE LEMONGRASS TEA:
Boil about 4 stalks of lemongrass in a pot of water. Make sure you bruise and split them in halves so the lemongrass will infuse a lot faster. I have not measured nor timed this process so depending on how strong you would like the tea to be, add water accordingly. Let it boil and simmer for about an hour. Once ready, pour into teacups and serve with honey or sugar.
HOT & SOUR SOUP WITH VERMICELLI RECIPE
- 3 stalk lemon grass (bruised)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 2-3 bird's eye chilli
- 15g shallots
- 5 cloves garlic (peeled & bruised)
- 2 inch ginger (peeled & sliced)
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 large carrots
- 2 large tomato (cut into wedges)
- 250g mixed seafood (prawn, squid, mussels)
- 1 litre boiled water
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 2 large lime (juice only)
- 1 1/2 tbs palm sugar
- Salt & ground white pepper to taste
- Coriander (as garnish)
- Heat the pot with some oil and partially cook the seafood. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Saute the onions, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, chillies and ginger in the same pot until fragrant.
- Add in water and let boil for a few minutes, turn the heat down to let the lemongrass flavour infuse into the soup.
- The celery, carrots and tomato is then added into the pot, together with the bouillon cube.
- Let the soup simmer on medium to low heat fora bout an hour and until vegetables are soft.
- While waiting for the soup to be ready, cook the vermicelli in hot water for 1 minute and drain.
- Divide the drained vermicelli in separate bowls.
- Squeeze some lime juice into the soup. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
- Tip the seafood into the hot soup to heat them up.
- Ladle soup over the noodles and garnish with coriander. You can add a few slices of red chilli if you like, just to give some colour and contrast.