A weekly series on what to do with your farmers' market impulse buys and CSA box surprises.
Makrut (Kaffir) limes have a distinguishable bumpy skin, strong tangy flavor and aromatic fragrance. The leaves and zest are used often in Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian dishes. The inside of the fruit is sour and rarely used for cooking, but the juice is sometimes used as a cleanser in Thailand and for medicinal purposes in Indonesia.
How do I buy them? Fresh Makrut limes and leaves can be found at farmers' markets and in the produce section of specialty grocery stores from late Fall through early Spring. Look for fruit that are firm and fragrant. When fresh is unavailable, dried leaves and peel are acceptable substitutes.
How do I eat them? The leaves can be used to infuse flavor into soups and stews. The rind of the fruit is often used in sauces and curry pastes. To make a Thai influenced marinade: whisk together the zest of 1 makrut lime (finely chopped), and 1 inch of fresh galangal or ginger (grated) with 2 Tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce), 1/4 Cup grapeseed or vegetable oil, 2 Tablespoons honey, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili paste. Marinate fish, chicken or tofu for 1 hour before cooking.