How to Cook With Preserved Lemons and Elevate Each Dish

Are you looking for a simple yet effective way to step up your cooking game? The answer is simpler than you think. With their rich salty, sour, and umami flavor, preserved lemons can elevate each meal, from salad dressing to soup and meats. Here’s everything you need to know about them and how to add them to your favorite recipes!

What Are Preserved Lemons?

Preserved lemons originate from North Africa as they’re a key ingredient in Moroccan and other North African cuisines. They’re also widely used in the Mediterranean and across the Middle East. To make them, lemons are normally quartered and packed in jars, and each wedge is covered in kosher salt. The jar is then brined in a solution of salt water, lemon juice, and aromatics like cinnamon sticks or peppercorns. The jars are then left to ferment for at least three weeks before they’re good to use. Once opened, a jar of preserved lemons can keep up to a year if stored in the refrigerator.

Which Parts Should Be Used?

Once you have your hands on a jar of preserved lemons, you might start to wonder which parts you should use and what, if anything, should be discarded. Since the brine is quite salty, it’s best to give them a short rinse to remove any excess salt. But don’t worry – doing that won’t remove any of their flavors.

Usually, you can use both the rind and pulp together for salads, tagines, roasted meat and veggies, and stews. For sauces, batters, vinaigrettes, dips, marinades, and drinks, it’s best to blend the rind and pulp in a food processor to get a smooth texture.

Cooking With Preserved Lemons 101

The peel and rind are where the most citrusy flavor is, which makes it perfect for dishes that need an extra kick of freshness. A finely minced peel is perfect for vinaigrettes, dressings, and roasted fish, as well as for creating a delicious citrusy finish to pesto, chimichurri, or aioli. Finely minced preserved lemon peels are terrific toast toppers and a mouthwatering addition to yogurts and dips. Add chopped preserved lemons to roasted chicken, and you’ll be amazed at what a great flavor they’ll bring.

Even though most recipes call for discarding the pulp, you can still use it, as long as you are mindful that it’s saltier than the rind. If you’re looking to add an extra punch to your slow-cook recipes, you can use the pulp only by mashing it directly into the stew, soup, or whatever it is you’re cooking. Generally, preserved lemons are perfect for proteins with higher levels of saturated fat as they help to lift their overall flavor and balance out their richness.

The Perfect Recipe for Salmon Croquettes with Creole Aïoli

These salmon croquettes are crispy on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside, and they are spiced with a handmade Creole spice mix for a spicy bite. The patties retain their shape better when refrigerated until firm before being dredged and cooked. To save time, you can replace the fresh fillets with an equivalent number of leftover cooked salmon. The croquettes go perfectly with Creole Aïoli, which is a delicious blend of creamy, crunchy, and salty flavors made up of finely chopped cornichons and their brine, Creole mustard, and a dash of sugar.

The Perfect Recipe for Salmon Croquettes with Creole AïoliThe Ingredients for Salmon Croquettes

  • 1 paprika teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. of onion powder
  • Half a teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Two (5-ounce) salmon fillets without skin
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup of celery, coarsely chopped (from 2 medium [3 ounces total] celery stalks)
  • 2 medium onions, cut very thin (white and light green parts reserved separately from dark green parts)
  • 14 Ritz round buttery crackers, from a 1-ounce sleeve, crushed
  • 3 split teaspoons of mayonnaise and a half cup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons of divided creole mustard
  • 3 cornichons, cut coarsely, plus 1 teaspoon of jar brine
  • 14 teaspoon sugar, granulated
  • 2 1/8 ounces (about half a cup) of all-purpose flour
  • Two eggs
  • Lemon slices

Here’s How to Do It

First, in a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, oregano, onion powder, black pepper, and one teaspoon of salt; leave aside. Then, in a medium nonstick skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add the salmon, and cook for three to four minutes on each side, or until the salmon is just beginning to gently brown on both sides and the center still has some pink in it. Put the fillets in a big basin and put them aside. After this, clean the skillet. Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Add the celery, white, and light green scallion and simmer for approximately three minutes, stirring periodically, until softened. Add the paprika mixture and whisk continuously for approximately a minute, or until aromatic. Add the mixture to the salmon in the bowl. Melt a tablespoon of the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the crushed crackers and heat, swirling and tossing periodically, for two to three minutes, or until toasted and dry. Add to the dish of salmon mixture. After taking the skillet off the heat, clean it.

To the salmon mixture in the bowl, add three tablespoons of mayonnaise and a tablespoon of mustard. Stir the ingredients together with a fork while flaking part of the fish. Stir the mixture constantly until chunky but bound and the salmon has broken down. Place on a large dish after uniformly forming the ingredients into four patties (2 1/2 inches wide). Patties should be chilled for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours before serving. In the meantime, combine the brine, sugar, remaining 1/2 cup mayonnaise, and two teaspoons of mustard in a small basin; cover and chill until required.

Eggs should be beaten in a separate shallow dish from the flour. Take out the salmon patties from the fridge, then lightly cover them with flour. Transfer burgers to the egg mixture, flip to coat, and let any excess fall back into the bowl. Return the patties to the flour, turning them to completely coat, then tapping off the excess. Clean the skillet, then add the remaining two tablespoons of oil and one tablespoon of butter.

Add the patties and fry for about three minutes on each side, or until both sides are crispy golden brown. Spread the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt equally over the patties as you distribute them. Add the dark green scallion pieces you set aside. Serve with lemon wedges and pickle-mayonnaise sauce.