Kaffir Lime trees are native to south east Asia and they produce two useful products - one is the Kaffir Lime itself, a small and hard, knobbly fleshed fruit, it doesn't produce much juice so the rind is used instead. The other is the subject of this post - the Kaffir Lime Leaf.
As you can see, it's a double, dark green coloured leaf - the underside is quite lighter. Some can be darker than that shown on the right and as you can see from the first photo they can also be a little lighter. There's also quite a bit of variance in the size. Medicinally Kaffir Limes are good for the digestion and they have quite a clean, fresh taste. There's a tanginess without the bitterness. You'll find these used a lot in Thai cooking.
A very simple use of the leaf is to just bruise it and add to a stock (as I'll do in the accompanying recipe) - this just lifts the flavour and gives it soothing characteristic. Otherwise it's recommended that you chiffonade the leaf and it can be eaten in salads and curries.
To chiffonade lime leaf, roll it along it's length from the stem to the tip and then cut as finely as possible to get those long thin slivers.
The recipe I'm making today is adapted from Donna Hay it's a very simple but elegant soup.
150g pork mince (mince it yourself from lean pork for better taste)
2 teaspoons Char Siew Sauce (or Hoisin Sauce)
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
20 gow gee wrappers (or wonton wrappers)
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
3 thick slices of peeled fresh ginger
4 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
extra lime leaf, for decoration
To make the dumplings:
In a bowl add the pork mince, Char Siew sauce and coriander leaves. Mix well - best done with your hands as this works the meat proteins and gives you the most evenly mixed product.
Take one wrapper and lightly moisten the edge with cold water. Add a teaspoon of pork into the centre and then fold in half to form a half moon shape. Place this on your index finger and taking the ends curl them under this finger to form a tortellini like shape. Try not to overfill the wrapper or it will be difficult to close it properly. You should get about 20 dumplings from this mixture.
Once they are made put them in the fridge while you make the broth.
In a saucepan add the chicken stock, lime leaves and ginger and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes for the flavours to infuse and the stock to heat up. Add the dumplings and continue on a gentle simmer, cook for another 5 minutes. You'll know when the dumplings are done as the underside tends to pucker and wrinkle.
For a dinner party I would serve 5 dumplings per person. Place the dumplings on each bowl, strain the soup to remove the ginger and lime leaves, then stir into the strained stock the chiffonade of lime leaf. Spoon this over the dumplings and serve.
A simple soup, full of goodness, the stock having absorbed the flavours of ginger and lime leaf, produces quite a refreshing broth that just from it's taste you know it's doing you good.