You know how The Goddess always says, “It’s all about the sauce!”? Well, once you’ve tasted this sauce, the skies will open, angels will sing and you will seriously consider this becoming a soup…hmmm….I used this sauce with what I’m referring to as a Seafood Mélange with Onions, Peppers and Peas.  But frankly, I’m thinking of making this into a Vietnamese-Flavored Mussel Bisque…there will a recipe for that soon, I can guarantee you.  I used frozen, thinly sliced lemongrass most of the time. I usually don’t remove it, particularly when texture is a positive. But, there are times, when bits of the more “husky” parts find their way in…for the bisque, I will strain it out. And you can certainly do that, but then you’re going to lose the shallots, too. This goes together quickly, and is loaded with complex flavors. One thing to note, I used coconut cream…this is tricky, because many of us think of the Coco Lopez®, Cream of Coconut. That has sugar and makes a damn fine Piña Colada.  However, that is NOT what we used here. This coconut cream has NO sugar…only coconut and water (sometimes a preservative, too). I prefer it to coconut milk, because it’s thicker and richer…can you ever have a sauce that’s too thick or too rich? Okay, you probably can, but not in this case. 

Sauté the shallot, lemongrass and Makrut lime leaves together in butter and vegetable oil.  You want the shallot to soften, but not brown.  Deglaze the pan with white wine, and rice wine vinegar, and reduce it slightly.  Add the coconut cream.  Then stir in tomato paste, the dark brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice and let it simmer for about 10 minutes…You want it to thicken slightly, but it doesn’t take long.  Taste it…I needed to add a bit more fish sauce and lime juice. 

Heavenly Lemongrass-Shallot Sauce with Coconut Milk

  • Servings: Makes about 3 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 large shallots, very finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup very, very thinly sliced lemongrass, the white part only
  • 2-inch piece ginger, finely grated (optional–I didn’t use it)
  • 2 Makrut (kaffir) lime leaves, ribs removed and finely leaves julienned
  • 2 small Thai chiles (or 1 teaspoon chile flakes)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups coconut cream (see NOTE)
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (I use 3 Crabs Brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped (optional)

Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat; add the butter and oil. When hot, add the minced shallots, the lemongrass and ginger, if using. Sauté for 3 or 4 minutes or until the shallots are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the kaffir lime leaves, chiles (or flakes), white wine and rice vinegar; simmer for about 1-2 minutes. The liquid should reduce just slightly. Add the palm sugar and tomato paste; stir until combined and the tomato paste is well mixed in. Simmer for a minute; add the coconut cream and grated lime zest. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil; reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and salt; give it a good stir. The sauce is now ready to use. If you wish, you may stir in cilantro and/or Thai basil, just before serving, or use the leaves as a garnish. This is best made at least an hour or two before using, then reheat gently and serve.

NOTE: I use frozen lemongrass that has been very, very thinly sliced. It works very well, but it can have bits of the coarser parts of the stalk. You may use coconut milk, but unsweetened coconut cream is richer and thicker.  (Make certain there is NO sugar added). Coconut cream is available in any good Asian market.

Heavenly Lemongrass-Shallot Sauce with Coconut Milk Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2022.  All rights reserved.