Ask Peter: Kaffir lime
I have tried making kaffir lime honey but it tasted awful. Can you please help as I hate wasting the fruit? Janine
I’ve been racking my brain wondering what kaffir lime honey might be and I’m guessing it’s a curd? I’m also guessing you have a kaffir lime tree? Lucky you, as the fruit and the leaves are so expensive over here in London.
From where I’m sitting, it seems like you’re on to a goldmine! The problem with making a curd from really bitter citrus fruit (such as a kaffir lime or a Seville orange) is that the finished product will obviously be quite bitter. There is very little juice in the fruit, so the flavour mostly comes from the zest (which is strong) and the leaves of the plant.
If I were to make a curd, I’d use mostly lemon or lime juice, plus whatever juice you can get from the kaffir limes and blend it briefly in a bar blender with a few kaffir lime leaves (shred them first to help them break down). Use this as the juice component, adding eggs, sugar and butter as per normal, as well as the finely grated zest (but don’t use too much) and you’ll get a much better result.
Once it’s cooked, strain it into a sterilised jar. You might also like to mix in some orange zest and juice, or something else. Passionfruit and kaffir lime is a great combo. Using that idea, of a few leaves and other citrus juice, you can also make great sorbets, served with a dollop of creme fraiche and a wafer as a refreshing dessert. Add quite a bit of sugar and cook to a light syrup to make a cordial — which is great for a non-alcoholic drink or a refreshing post-exercise drink.
You can also gently mix the zest and juice with coarse sea salt flakes and leave it to dry on a baking paper-lined tray. This is great sprinkled on to barbecued fish, roast chicken, tossed with clams and spaghetti that you’ve cooked with chopped fresh tomatoes and the like.
I’ve also made lovely pork rissoles using the zest and juice, along with the leaves. This sounds a bit bonkers but it’s great. In a bar blender, puree 2 eggs with 2 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 sliced red or green chilli including the seeds, and 5 lime leaves — for me a leaf is a double as each leaf is actually 2 parts — so this would be 10 pieces.
Puree as finely as you can, then strain through a sieve and mix with 600g coarse-minced pork. Add the zest and juice of 2 limes (avoid any white pith) and 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger. Add herbs of your liking — coriander, tarragon, parsley, dill, mint and plenty of them.
Add a little salt — remember you’ve already added fish sauce, so allow for that. Mix everything together and leave in the fridge for an hour. Mix it together again then fry a marble sized piece to taste for seasoning. Add 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, or ¾ cup panko crumbs, and mix one last time.
Divide into walnut-sized balls and press a little flat, then either fry or barbecue until just cooked in the middle. Serve with a salad made from thinly sliced, peeled cucumbers, blanched bean sprouts, defrosted peas and picked watercress or rocket. Dress the salad with the juice of 1 kaffir lime and ¼ tsp of the zest, along with 2 tsp lime or lemon juice, 2 tsp runny honey and a good slug of sesame oil mixed with olive oil.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to [email protected] and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.