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a recipe request – from Tokyo

My dear friend and former neighbor, Lori, sent me a recipe request all the way from Tokyo, Japan. Here is a condensed version of her email.

“Last night we took friends to our favorite restaurant here – Ivy Place. They have a drink that blows me away-it is lemongrass lemonade. Everyone was wondering, “How do you think they make this?!?” I said the only person in the world besides this restaurant who could possibly figure it out is Miss Linda! Ever heard of lemongrass lemonade? Here is a picture of what they serve.

Ivy Place Lemongrass Lemonade

It seriously is the most delicious, refreshing drink I have ever had (and I am a lemonade freak-so all the better). In all your spare time, 🙂 can you help us with this mystery and how to make this concoction? You may get a better idea though if you could just jump on a plane and get over here already!”

Now I’m pretty good at deciphering recipes and recreating them at home … once I’ve TASTED them! But to try to recreate something I’ve never tried – that’s a serious challenge! Quite honestly, it’s impossible. I can only make a guess, and not even an educated guess, as to what the bartender or mixologist at Ivy Place in Tokyo uses to make their Lemongrass Lemonade.

herb garden

Otherwise, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a recipe. I have lemongrass growing in my exceedingly overgrown herb garden. I am going to clean all that excessive oregano and rosemary out of there and start over, soon, very soon … maybe this weekend!

At the end of the post, you’ll find directions on trimming garden lemongrass. If you don’t have lemongrass growing in your yard and you aren’t close enough to come over and get some of mine, you can often find it with the herbs in the grocery store.

One thing I did figure out after I made several attempts, Ivy Place makes the drink differently than I do! I can see that from the fact that their drink is clear and garnished with mint and mine is yellow and garnished with lemongrass. The yellow in my drink comes from the use of lemon zest. I don’t want to leave that out because the oils in the peel give you the most intense lemon flavor. I like my lemonade to be really lemony!

All that being said – Lori, here is my version of Lemongrass Lemonade. I’ve named it after you. Please make a batch, taste it and then give me some feedback about what you think and what might be added or taken away to make it most like the concoction that Ivy Place serves.

One last thought – Lori claims that this makes a seriously tasty cocktail when you add vodka. Strangely enough – I believe her!

Loris Lemongrass Lemonade

Lori’s Lemongrass Lemonade

Lemongrass Simple Syrup
4 stalks lemongrass, outer tough leaves, and roots removed
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Zest from 5 large lemons (reserve the lemons, you will use their juice in the lemonade)
 
Lemonade
4 cups cold water
Juice from the same 5 large lemons (you should get between 1 ½ to 2 cups)

Garnish
1 lemon, sliced into rounds for garnish
Reserved lemongrass stalks

crush

Lemongrass Simple Syrup: Use a meat pounder or the bottom of a pot to smash and bruise the ends of the lemongrass stalks.

syrup stuff

Place the lemongrass, water, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then remove from heat.

add zest

Add the zest from the 5 large lemons and let the flavors infuse for 15 minutes.

rinse lemongrass

Strain the syrup into a large measuring cup or pitcher and refrigerate until chilled.

strain

Lemonade: Place the lemongrass stalks back into the saucepan and cover with the 4 cups cold water, swish around to rinse off the stalks, strain the water into another bowl or measuring cup and set the lemongrass aside to use as garnish.

3 liquids

Once the simple syrup has cooled, add the lemon juice and the cold water from the saucepan (that you rinsed the lemongrass in) to a pitcher, and stir.

lemongrass lemonade

Pour over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a reserved lemongrass stalk and a lemon round.

Makes about 1  1/2  quarts

long lemongrass

When using fresh lemongrass from the garden, pull it out by the root. Rinse under cold running water and then trim off the long grassy tops.

trimmed lemongrass

Although I have 6 stalks here, the three thick stalks are the “regular” size. This is what the trimmed lemongrass you can buy at the store will look like.

4 stalks

I combined the three smaller stalks to “make 1 regular” stalk. Now your lemongrass is ready to use.


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4 comments

1 Marissa { 05.30.14 at 8:40 AM }

Linda Hopkins – miracle recipe creator.

2 Nancy H { 05.30.14 at 12:22 PM }

Pretty pitcher!

3 Kim { 05.30.14 at 5:16 PM }

Perfect for these hot afternoons…. I am free:)

4 Lori V { 05.31.14 at 7:05 PM }

Linda! You are the best! Can’t wait to get back to the US and try your version! (I dare not make it here-not sure I know the difference between seaweed and lemongrass from the signs in the grocery store here.) Different or not-I’m sure it will be equally delicious as the original! Thank you so much for all of the hard work and love that you put into everything you do! Miss you! xoxo

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