WHAT IS IT?
Kaffir lime leaves are waxy leaves with a strong citrus flavour and scent without the sourness of a lime. It is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines as a herb to flavour soups and curries.
HOW IS IT USED?
Kaffir lime leaves usages are pretty much endless as long as you have an open mind. The leaves provide a very fresh citrus scent and flavour without any sourness so they can be used in a lot of light and refreshing dishes.
They are most commonly used in Southeast Asian (Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Indonesian, Vietnamese) cuisines, in fact you may recognize the flavour of the leaves in the very common and popular ‘Tom Yum Gong’ soup.
Kaffir lime leaves are commonly used in soups and curries along with lemongrass since the two herbs go hand in hand wonderfully and have similar flavour properties. When finely chopped, it also goes well in rice, salads, noodles and stirfry dishes to give it a nice pop in flavour.
One thing to note, these leaves are very potent, so if you have never used it before start with using 2 leaves and go up from there. If you use too much it can easily overpower a dish.
Recipes that use Kaffir Lime Leaves:
- Lao Crispy Rice Salad (Nam Khao)
- Lemongrass Meatballs (Larb Style) – 3 Ways
- Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)
There is no true substitute to this ingredient but if I was to substitute it I would substitute it with mix of lemongrass and lime zest.
WHERE DO I FIND IT?
Kaffir lime leaves can be found at Asian grocery stores and are usually in the produce section. I have seen them both out in the open with the produce, and as well as in the fridge section by the produce section.
If you can’t find them locally, you can find them online as well. I found this a bit odd since these leaves are fresh, but it also makes that they could be easily transported since they are a bit waxy. I personally have not tried buying them online but it is an option if you can’t find it anywhere else.
When you are shopping for them locally, look for waxy green leaves. You don’t want the leaves to be wrinkly or have any brown on them – that’s usually an indication that they are not fresh.
Be careful when you handle them as well. The stems on the kaffir lime leaves have thick thorns on them.
Kaffir lime leaves tastes almost like lime zest but has a hint of floral-ness to it as well. It does not have any sourness to it like a lime.
Kaffir lime leaves have a glossy sheen to it, with an almost wax-like finish. They are quite tough as well, so you don’t want to chew on them as they will never really break apart. If you plan to just flavour soups and broths with it, keep it whole so you can easily fish them back out. The tough skin will keep its shape so it will not break apart in soups, stews and curries.
If you are using them in stir fries or anything that requires you to have them ‘in’ the food, make sure you remove the spine in the middle of the leaf. They are pretty tough and are not fun to chew on. Chop them up as finely as you can as well, that way the tough texture will be less detectable in the final dish.
The leaves can sometimes be packaged with the stems intact, discard the stems and be careful while removing the leaves off the stem since they have thorns on them.
These can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks if they are fresh. After a week or so, store them in a well sealed ziploc bag or container and store them in the freezer.
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