To use lemongrass whole, slice off the very bottom of the stalk, and peel off any dried-out layers, then smash the woody top end with the back of a chef’s knife to help release some of the aromatic oils. Use whole lemongrass in soups and curries (remember to pull out the stalks before serving).
For chopping or pounding, cut off the bottom third of the plant. Chop finely or pound to a pulp in a mortar & pestle. Make this lemongrass turmeric curry paste to freeze and use throughout the winter or make traditional coconut lemongrass soup – steep the leafy tops in boiling water to make tea.
I also like the idea of using lemongrass in unexpected ways: Use to flavor crème brulee or steep a stalk in a bottle of vodka for cocktails (clean and bruise a lemon grass stalk, then put it in a nearly full bottle of vodka for 3-4 days, shaking occasionally; then remove the stalks). Or simply add it to your next pot of chicken soup.
STORAGE: Stored in the fridge, in an open plastic bag, lemongrass will keep for a couple weeks, if not longer. Freeze it whole to use later.