Preserved Lemon

preserved lemon - trust in kim

 

Preserving lemons takes a few weeks to accomplish, but it is really simple, and adds so much to Middle Eastern dishes like a chicken tagine.

Preserved lemons are pickled in their own juice and salt. They sit for a number of weeks, and when they are done can be kept in the fridge for months. The peel of the lemon becomes full of flavour through the preserving process, so you use this part and get rid of the flesh.

I still have to do some experimenting with other uses of preserved lemons, but I have tried them in a dip, and on some fish, as well as with chicken. So good!

I’ve only made this once, and I halved the recipe just in case I didn’t like it. Here is the full recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s The Cookbook.

What you need:

  • 1 jar just large enough to hold all the lemons squished in tightly
  • boiling water
  • 6 unwaxed lemons
  • 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (optional)
  • 1 large red chile
  • juice of 6 lemons
  • olive oil

What you do:

  1. Fill the jar with boiling water and let it sit for a minute to sterilize it. Pour the water out and let it sit without touching or drying it.
  2. Wash the lemons and cut a cross in them from one end to about 2cm from the bottom so the 4 quarters are still attached. Pour a tablespoon of salt into each lemon, then fit them tightly into the jar. Seal the jar and leave it for at least a week. I left mine in a cupboard.
  3. After the first week, remove the lid and push the lemons down to squeeze as much juice out as you can. Add the rosemary, chile, and as much lemon juice as you need to cover the lemons. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top. Seal the jar and leave in a cool place for at least 4 weeks. I put mine in the fridge at this point and forgot about them for a few months. They turned out awesome!
  4. To use the lemons, remove the flesh from the inside of one and rinse the peel. Chop it up and use as you wish.

preserving lemons - trust in kim

 

Yotam Ottolenghi's shop on Motcomb Street in London from my visit in July 2014
Yotam Ottolenghi’s shop on Motcomb Street in London from my visit in July 2014

Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich

lemongrass banh mi - trust in kim

A little while ago I posted a recipe for tofu banh mi wraps, which were quite delicious. On Halloween I ate a lemongrass chicken banh mi from a place that my friend John loves in the West End of Vancouver. It was so tasty that I knew I had to feed John’s addiction for these things by making them for him at my house. So I found this recipe on thedilettantechef, and I love the flavour. Marinating the chicken overnight really infuses it with the lemongrass and other flavours. It is topped it off with some homemade pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, Thai basil, cucumbers and optional jalapeño, and you’ve got the best sandwich ever.

I’m a bit of a sandwich snob – if I’m going to eat bread it has to be fresh and awesome, and if I’m going to eat a sandwich it has to be made on the spot, and have interesting flavours. Plus it has to contain a reasonable amount of fresh vegetables. No pre-made, plastic-wrapped sandwiches for this princess! This one passes my guidelines easily.

Be careful of the jalapeño – sometimes they are hotter than other times, so you might want to go easy on them if you don’t love them really hot. The jalapeños I bought for this one were so hot that our mouths and lips were on fire, and it took away from the flavour and enjoyment a bit.

For a later, gluten-free version, I used rice paper wraps to make up some sandwiches – loved that too!

What you need for the chicken:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts(~2 lbs)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • a few teaspoons peanut or canola oil for frying

What you need for the pickled carrot and daikon:

  • 1 large julienned carrot
  • 1 cup julienned daikon (optional)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • a large pinch of salt
  • a large pinch of red chili flakes

What you need for the sandwich:

  • a fresh crusty baguette
  • cilantro
  • Thai basil (if you absolutely can’t find it you can substitute fresh mint)
  • cucumber, thinly sliced
  • soy sauce
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce
  • jalapeño slices

What you do:

  1. The day before you want to make these sandwiches, or at the very least 3-4 hours before, prepare the marinade for the chicken. Cut each chicken breast or thigh into about 3 pieces. Place each piece between a sheet of parchment paper and pound it until it is about 2cm thick. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a sealable container and coat the chicken with the sauce. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  2. You can also make the pickled carrot and daikon ahead of time. It needs at least a few hours to pickle the vegetables. Combine all the ingredients in a jar, put the lid on it and shake it up a bit, then refrigerate. If the liquid doesn’t quite cover the vegetables, make up a little more of it.
  3. To prepare to build the sandwiches, get the toppings ready. Chop the cilantro and Thai basil, and slice the cucumbers and jalapeño pepper. Add a little bit of Sriracha sauce to the mayonnaise and stir it up. Have the soy sauce and pickled veg on hand, and slice the baguette open hotdog style. I like to let people make their own sandwich, so I just lay all the ingredients out on a platter.
  4. To prepare the chicken, heat a heavy frying pan on medium high and add a little bit of the peanut or canola oil. When it is hot add some of the chicken, not crowding the pan. Fry until the first side gets some dark colour, just a few minutes, then flip it and fry the other side until cooked through.
  5. To serve, sprinkle a little soy sauce on the inside of the bread (you might remove a little bit of bread from the inside before doing this), and spread on a little bit of Sriracha mayo. Add the chicken and some of each of the toppings as you desire, and enjoy immediately.

X’nipek / Yucatan Red Onion Salsa

x'nipek - trust in kim

Here is another of the recipes I learned in Tulum, Mexico at a cooking class I took at Altamar Restaurant. I love to put a few strips of this on top of a taco.  Yes, it is quite hot because of the Habanero chili, but you could use a piece of banana pepper instead if you’re afraid of the heat, or just leave it out altogether.  It is a really simple recipe, and it only needs to sit for about half hour before consuming, but I prefer it after it has sat overnight or even a few days.

What you need:

  • 100 grams red onion
  • 100 ml sour orange juice (or lemon juice with a little orange juice mixed in)
  • 10 grams Habanero chili

What you do:

  1. Roast the Habanero on a gas stove or barbecue until it has blackened slightly all over.  Chop it very finely.  Only use a little piece of it if you want this to be milder.
  2. Slice the red onion as thinly as you can and put it into a bowl or jar.  Add the Habanero to the onions, then pour the orange/lemon juice over the top.  Give it a little stir, then cover and refrigerate for half an hour or overnight.
  3. Serve on tacos, empanadas, or another favourite Mexican dish.  A little sour cream or plain yogurt will help cut the heat.
x'nipek on tacos - trust in kim
X’nipek on tacos

Pickle Skewers

pickle skewers - trust in kim

Here’s a yummy, pretty and easy party appetizer.  There’s a mixture of sweet and salty pickles and olives, and a sweet grape to finish it off.

What you need:

pitted olives

sweet pickled onions

dill pickles, sliced into rounds

sweet grapes

wooden skewers

What you do:

Skewer everything starting with the grape.  That way the last flavour will be  sweet one.

Oma’s Dill Pickles

Mmm, there’s nothing like biting into a crisp, cold pickle out of the jar.  I prefer homemade pickles, so I can make them a little less salty than the commercial ones, and a little spicier.

The main thing to remember when pickling is to keep everything clean to get rid of any bacteria.  To do this you can boil the jars in a canning pot, put them in the oven at 250 F for 20 minutes, or run them through a hot dishwasher.

What you need:

canning jars (20lbs of pickles makes 20-24 jars – prepare more jars and lids than you think you need)  Make sure you only use proper canning jars; reused jars like commercial jam or peanut butter won’t seal properly.  You can reuse the rings from year to year, but you need to use new lids so that they will seal properly.

lids

rings

large canning pot

Ingredients for 5-ish jars:

5 lbs pickling cucumbers

8 cups water

1 & 1/2 cups pickling vinegar

1/4 cup pickling salt (I couldn’t find any and used kosher salt this time)

1/2 cup sugar

dill (stems and flowers, not the green feathery parts you cook with)

horseradish

5 hot red peppers (thai work well)

5 cloves garlic

Here’s how you do it:

1. In each jar place some dill (I used one flower head and stalk cut up), a slice of horseradish, one pepper cut in half (don’t cut it if you don’t want the pickles to be very spicy), and one clove garlic.

2.  Cram as many clean cucumbers in as you can.  I usually start with a few big ones, and save the smaller ones to fit in between and on top.  Leave about 2cm of space between the cukes and the top of the jar.

3.  Heat brine to boiling, and make sure the water in the canning pot is boiling.

4.  Place new lids in a pot of water to heat for  a few minutes.  This sterilizes them and softens up the rubber, making it easier to get a seal.

5.  Fill each jar with brine, leaving a bit of space.  Place the lid and ring on each jar right away and tighten.  The canning pot I use fits seven jars, so I only filled seven at a time.  Place the jars in the canning pot, put the lid on and keep on high heat for just a few minutes; you don’t want to cook the pickles, so if it starts to boil you should remove them.

6.  Find a place where you can leave the jars untouched for 24-48 hours.  My Oma and Opa always put a towel on the top and bottom, so that’s what I do.

7.  Over the next day or so you’ll hear that popping sound that lets you know that your jars have sealed properly.  You can also tell they are sealed because the lid has curved down slightly, and it makes a high-pitched sound when you tap it with a spoon, instead of the dull sound of an unsealed jar.  If you happen to have one jar that doesn’t seal,  just keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

8.  I usually wait about three months before I open my first jar.  After your first try at making these, you’ll get an idea of what you want to change to make the recipe suit your tastes.  Feel  free to comment and let me know what you did differently.

Some adaptations I’ve tried are:

no garlic

more or fewer peppers

a slice of carrot or yellow bean for colour

mustard seeds

Here’s a great link for canning info!