As the seasons change beyond the kitchen window, what's a cook to do? You can't change the weather out there, but you can tip the culinary scale from winter to spring with the alluring sparkle of lemon grass. Refreshing and light without the bite of lemons, it will liven up everything from vinaigrettes and mayonnaise to seafood and soup.

A tropical grass that resembles a cross between a bamboo shoot and a green onion, lemon grass lies patiently in bundles on produce shelves of Asian markets and a growing number of mainstream food stores.

Lemon grass tastes lemony and gingery, with a seductive hint of mint. The herb blends nicely with all kinds of flavors: garlic, curry, cilantro, soy sauce, peanut oil and coconut milk.