How to make Lemongrass stronger?

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Senior Cook
May 15, 2020
Prior Lake
Recently went to a Vietnamese restaurant and was surprised by the strong (and I mean STRONG) floral lemongrass taste/aroma in their lemongrass chicken. When I took it home and started to dissect the flavors, I only saw a small amount of minced lemongrass in the dish itself. So I fried up my own lemongrass chicken, but I'm struggling to figure out how they made it so floral. I've used 3 stalks lemongrass in about a 1 person portion, but I can't figure out why my lemongrass chicken isn't as lemongrass-y. Should I be using a certain wok technique to make it more floral, or tr stir frying the lemongrass longer? (I marinate the chicken overnight in minced lemongrass then fry up about 1 tsp. of lemongrass in my wok before adding the chicken itself). Does anyone have any tips that I could attempt? Do you think restaurants could use additional lemon . . . extract or fresh lemon juice? (I didn't see any lemon zest in the dish.). Or is there a lemongrass extract that could be used in cooking? My lemongrass is tiny (the diameter of maybe a chopstick when I bring it home.) Is more mature (larger diameter) lemongrass more potent/floral?
I really don't know, but I have a guess. Maybe they use chicken stock with a lot of lemon grass in it. That would explain not seeing more pieces of lemongrass. The other thing I wonder, is if maybe their lemon grass is fresher or a different cultivar.
If you have the smaller diameter lemongrass, it is milder - it's a different species, that is what you'll find seeds for. The larger diameter type that you usually find in groceries, is one that is much stronger, and that one you have to propagate by rooting the stems, as they won't flower. One of the rooted stems is stuck in the ground, and 5-6 months later has spread to about 5 or 6 inches in diameter, with 60-80 lemongrass stalks.

To make those dishes stronger, use a mortar and pestle. First, slice the stalks thin - this way, the fibers are cut through, then pound it to a paste, adding garlic, if that is also in the dish. This intensifies the flavor greatly.
As usual, @PepperHead beat me to it :)

For now, if you can only get the small lemongrass, pount it in mortar & pestle and maybe add lemon peel for a stronger lemon flavour.
Otherwise, just use more

I'm lucky, I got loads of fresh lemongrass growing ;)
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