On Wednesday (2 days ago) I mentioned that my next post on Moroccan food would be a condiment.
And so here we have…
I was really super intrigued by this idea of preserving citrus. I had read about the process in a preserving book last summer but didn’t attempt it, due to the fact that I had no real use for or ambition to use preserved lemons.
However, in reading through a lot of recipes for Moroccan tagine (slow cooked stew), almost all of them call for a bit of preserved lemon.
I was thinking, “What’s the big deal? Why does it need to be preserved lemon? Can’t I just use lemon juice or something..you know…easier?”.
But what I’m going for is that authentic Morroccan flavor. And as I learned last time with oyster sauce in the recipe for Philippine Ginisang Togue, flavor and authenticity is key.
And so I set out to find a recipe.
And ran into a problem.
Preserved lemons take 4 weeks to make. What?? Yeah. Regarding my time frame I had for the series, I did not have time to make it that way.
And so I made the preserved lemons, because I was so wanting to make a tagine.
(Bear with me…my picture settings are being glitchy and not allowing me to write captions.)
I got 2 organic lemons from the store, cut them into quarters and added 2 Tablespoons sea salt (subbed for Kosher salt) and about 1 cup of water.
Afterwards. Looked kinda gross but smelled heavenly.
Right after I made it. I imagined the peels would soften as they sat in the salt and juices. (And they did.)
After sitting in the fridge for a few days. It looks oily but I think that’s just the mix of lemon pulp and saturated salty lemon juice.
All that remains here is the peel…the actual fruit part is super soft, almost like a cooked onion.
I didn’t actually try the lemons themselves but I did try a bit of the..(sauce?) they were preserved in. And I made a face. Because it was super-salty. And super-sour. Big suprise, right?
But it smelled heavenly. The most amazing, sunny and beautiful lemon fragrance.
And now I think I’m beginning to understand why preserved lemon had value. It’s just a way to prolong the harvest of a plentiful seasonal fruit. Much like we make applesauce or strawberry jam here in the U.S.
And I can also see how these lemons will add a bit of the sour in the sweet & sour cooking that is common in Morocco.
Stay tuned for my main dish post next week! It will hopefully be up on Tuesday.