The Adventurous Cook

Preserved Lemons“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

On a Monday, from a very tiny kitchen in Florida, I close my eyes for a second and let the aroma of the toasted spices guide my way to a far away land of palaces and vibrant oasis. A place where the flavors of the food are as vibrant and bold as the rays of sun showering its people. Morocco is a mystery to my western upbringing. It’s traditions, customs, and food are but faraway whispers and I can hardly make out what those whispers try to say. And yet, I begin by trying to understand the food, because food is something that we share. Humans pass down food from one generation to another.  We gather around our most coveted recipes and celebrate special occasions in the presence of an elaborately prepared meal. A universal experience indeed.

Step out of your comfort zone and step into somebody’s shoes. Let some of their experiences become a part of yours.The easiest way to do this is to begin in the kitchen, with everyday ingredients, molded into out-of-this-world flavors.

Consider the lemon. This ubiquitous citrus fruit is also a staple in Moroccan cooking. A lemon gets cut into 6 wedges before it gets tossed in sea salt and spices. The wedges, salt, and spices combined can live for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator before being used for the first time. By then, the lemons have expelled much of their juice and the rind would have softened into a salty, tangy, and bitter condiment that can be added to couscous. lamb roasts, and even salad dressings. The spices impregnate the rind with their sweet essence, creating a culmination of exotic flavors, perfect for the adventurous cook.

Preserved Lemons

  • 5 lemons cut into 6 wedges
  • 1/2 cup of sea salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • juice of 1 lemon

In a clean container; plastic, mason jar, etc. pour 1 tbs of salt. layer as many wedges of lemon as possible without layering lemon on top of lemon. Add a layer of salt, enough to cover the entire surface of the first layer of lemons. sprinkle some of the spices.  Now, repeat with a new layer of lemons, then slat, then spices, until they have all fit into the container. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 4 weeks before using.

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