Preserved lemons are often described as one of the signature flavors of North African cooking, adding a salty, citrus note to pilafs, tagines, and stews. I haven't been to Morocco or Algeria or Tunisia (yet!), nor have I ever tasted preserved lemons, but the latter will change in a few weeks. That's when this quart jar of lemons, salt, and spices will come to maturity, and I'll pretend I'm sitting down for a bowl of lentil tagine with preserved lemons in Tangier or Casablanca. How's that for budget travel?
Organic lemons are preferred for this, because the peels are the ultimate ingredient, and that's where pesticides can concentrate in non-organic lemons. Some preserved lemon recipes call for nothing more than lemons and salt, and some include lots of spices and sweeteners. I took the middle path, with lemons, salt, and spices, but no sweetener.
After sterilizing a wide mouth quart jar and lid in boiling water, I filled the jar with layers of sea salt (a half cup!), quartered lemons, and spices including cardamom pods, cloves, star anise, a cinnamon stick, and black peppercorns. If this works out, I'll post the actual recipe in a few weeks...I don't want to lead anyone astray in the meantime :) After filling the jar with lemons, I squeezed the juice of the extra lemons into the jar, until all of the lemon quarters were submerged in lemon juice. I used about two pounds of lemons in total. Now I'm shaking the jar every day, to keep the salt and juice mixed. The pickled lemons are rinsed of much of the salt before eating, so don't be freaked out by that half cup of salt.
This is sort of a recipe in progress, so I'll be back in a few weeks with the results, and hopefully a fabulous Moroccan recipe to showcase these guys. Meanwhile...
Another cookbook winner, this is a take on the Pad See Ew from Vegan Yum Yum. The greens are yu choy, which is pretty close to Chinese broccoli. The rice noodles here are kind of interesting too - Thai noodles called "Rice Flake" on the package. They look like flat cut-up squares of dry spring roll wrapper, but when cooked they roll up into cylinders. I was entertained (it's winter), and the noodle tubes are nice vehicles for the sweet and spicy Pad See Ew sauce. Yu choy is harvested fairly young, so even the stems are pretty tender after a quick stir fry.