Preserved lemons are whole lemons that have been preserved by being packed in tall jars with salt, flavoured with herbs and spices, covered with lemon juice or brine and left to cure for a few weeks. They are used extensively in North African cooking. Used sparingly, they impart a sophisticated lemon undertone common to tagines and Moroccan salads.
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Preserved lemons are now a more common sight in supermarkets and delicatessens and add genuine depth to a dish. If you can't find preserved lemons, substitute with fresh lemons.
When using preserved lemons, remember to wash each lemon to remove the brine and scoop out the pulp within, which will be too salty; the thin skin is all you need to impart the flavour. They can be used in stews or tagines, or chopped finely and added to couscous dishes or salads. Often a recipe will only require a half or even a quarter of a preserved lemon to make the dish its own. Try using a quarter or a half of a preserved lemon in a dish where you might have used lemon juice or zest and see what new flavours you get.
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