The rich flavours enjoyed on our Moroccan honeymoon was one thing we could not leave behind. In Marrakech we took a cooking class and, in addition to the tagine, we learned to make one of its key ingredients – the ubiquitous preserved lemon.
If you don’t know better, preserved lemons seem mysterious, as though only a skilled chef (or a grandma) know the secret to creating this delicacy. In reality they are dead easy. All you need are the right ingredients and a lot of time.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Preservation Time: 4-6 weeks
Step #1: Make a vertical cut halfway through the lemon. The two halves should remain attached at the base.
Step #2: Turn the lemon upside down and cut the lemon again half way vertically at a 90 degree angle to the first cut. You will end up with 4 pieces that are still attached in the middle
Step #3: Add 1 tsp salt to each side of the lemons, and then pack them tightly in the glass jar until no space is left. Sprinkle some salt in the jar.
Step #4: Cover the jar, and keep at room temperature in a dark closet or cabinet for a month. The only time you are going to check on the jar is during the first 3 days to verify if the juice produced by the lemons is enough. If the lemons on top are not covered with juice, add another cut lemon (if space allows) or lemon juice until the top lemons are covered with juice. Cover the jar and return to cabinet.
Step #5: Preserve for 4-6 weeks.
Once ready, you can cook these salty lemony delights up with chicken, throw them in with couscous or tabbouleh, and of course cook them in my favourite, Moroccan chicken tagine.
Note: As you can see from this picture there isn’t nearly enough lemon juice. After three days we were able to squish in another lemon. Make sure your lemon juice reaches the top of the jar.
Moroccan food and spices has certainly influenced our cooking.
Do you have a dish you discovered while traveling that has been a part of your regular meal routine?