It seems to me as if Asian cuisines lend themselves much more easily to a paleo diet than the food of other cultures. There are so many ways to make various styles of curry that don’t involve carbs, it’s only natural I’ve gravitated towards it more frequently these days. Recently I’ve been jonesing for some light, flavorful lemongrass soup. A friend of mine recently mentioned the amazing lemongrass chicken soup at one of our local Chinese joints and when I went to pick some up, I couldn’t find it anywhere on their menu! I was devastated and ever since then it’s been nagging at the back of my mind. So tonight I finally decided to try to blend a couple of recipes I found online to create a healthy paleo dinner and sufficiently embarrassed myself at the Asian market in the process. It turned out I had no idea what lemongrass looked like, and the lovely women running the shop had to (very kindly) guide me in the right direction. I made my way over to the produce cooler and didn’t see anything very grasslike other than chives. I smelled them to see if they were what I wanted and tried to convince myself the oniony aroma smelled slightly lemony. I then asked the women up front whether they had lemongrass and they directed me back to the cooler again. I was in too deep at this point, so I went back out to the car to look up photos of lemongrass on my phone rather than admitting to them I didn’t know what this godforsaken plant looked like. The size of the plant was quite deceiving on a little Samsung screen, so I proudly took my chives up to the front counter to pay. The look I feared materialized in her eyes before me.
“These are chives,” the shop manager said.
“I don’t know what lemongrass looks like,” I whispered, slumping my shoulders, embarrassed.
She sighed somewhat impatiently and slowly shuffled back to the cooler with me in tow. She whipped the large fibrous stalks towards me and I pretty much sprinted out the door with my pride more than a little wounded. So take this story, dear reader, and use it to improve your next Asian market experience as well as tomorrow night’s dinner. I promise to continue embarrassing myself to bring you the best and brightest flavors Colorado has to offer.
For future reference, here’s what lemongrass looks like:
They’re like 2 or 3 feet long and super thick/fibrous. Get some and enjoy the heavenly aromas.
Lemongrass Chicken Soup
1 Rotisserie chicken
3 large stalks lemongrass
2 inch piece of ginger (slice half and julienne the other half)
1 large yellow onion
5 green onion stalks, halved
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 large jalapeno, seeded and sliced in half lengthwise
8 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 lime or lemon for garnish
- Shred all the meat from the chicken and store it in the fridge for the time being.
- Place the chicken carcass in a large stockpot and barely cover it with water. Turn the heat to low and bring the water to a simmer. NEVER BOIL YOUR BROTH. It will emulsify the fat from the chicken and turn a horrible dishwater grey color.
- Slice the lemongrass lengthwise and smash it with a mallet until it’s somewhat pulpy. Add it to the broth. Slice half the ginger (1 inch) into thin slices and add them as well.
- Add in the onion halves, green onions, peppercorns, jalapeno, and mushrooms, and allow to simmer for at least one hour.
- After an hour or more, add the cilantro, mint, brown sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes.
- Strain the broth into a bowl using cheesecloth in a large collander and set it in the fridge for a little while so the fat rises to the top.
- Skim the fat from the top (if I’m being totally honest, I skipped this step and just used the broth as it was).
- Place as much shredded chicken as you want to eat in a bowl and pour the broth in so it covers the chicken. At this point, you can microwave it to reheat the broth if you’ve refrigerated it.
- Top with mung bean sprouts, carrot slices, cilantro, and julienned ginger to the broth and enjoy!