Kaffir lime leaves are waxy leaves that come from the kaffir lime tree. The leaves provide a very fresh citrus scent and flavor to dishes without any tartness from the citrus juice so they can be used in a lot of Asian dishes to give them a fragrant citrus flavor.
How To Use It
Kaffir lime leaves are most commonly used in Southeast Asian (Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Indonesian, Vietnamese) cuisines and you may recognize the flavor of the leaves in popular dishes like tom yum goong soup.
They are also very commonly used in soups and curries along with lemongrass since the two herbs go hand in hand wonderfully and have similar flavor properties.
When finely chopped, it also goes well in rice, salads like Nam Khao (Lao crispy rice salad), noodles dishes like bun bo hue (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), and stirfry dishes to give it a nice pop in flavor.
One thing to note, these leaves are very potent, so if you have never used them before start with using 2 leaves and go up from there. If you use too much it can easily overpower a dish.
The leaves are quite tough and are not edible (like bay leaves). You will want to discard them once you are done cooking with them.
If you plan to just flavor 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 want to use them in stir-fries, you should rip out the spine of the leaves and discard them. Use the soft parts of the leaves and chop them up very finely before adding them to your dish.
Where Can I Find Kaffir Lime Leaves?
Kaffir lime leaves can be found at Asian grocery stores and are usually in the produce section, usually where there is a fridge.
I highly recommend you buy these locally - it is very common for fresh leaves to grow mold and mildew during transport if you are buying them through the internet. That being said, you can also find dried kaffir lime leaves online on Amazon as well but they will not be as strong and potent as the fresh ones.
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 Substitutes
To substitute kaffir lime leaves, use lemongrass and lime zest together.
How to Store It
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.