Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Citrus Tips

I absolutely love cooking with citrus! I make a lot of different marinades and dressings using citrus juice and zest; they can breathe new life into almost any food! Using orange, lemon, lime, and even grapefruit adds so much to a dish. Bright and clean, the flavor of citrus perks up all sorts of salads, sandwiches and entrees. They can be used in a variety of different ways and are relatively inexpensive to purchase (and very easily attainable too!). Below are some quick little tips on making the most out of your citrus in the kitchen.
1. Don't forget to zest!
The zest of citrus fruit is jam-packed with flavor. Make sure to buy a grater or hydroplane (you can get these very inexpensively at a hardware store) and add some zest to anything calling for citrus juice to add extra zing to your recipe. Make sure, however, that you are not zesting past the peel. The white layer under the peel is pretty bitter, so keep this in mind when zesting.

2. Juicing 101
For a citrus fruit that is underripe, you can pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds. You can also roll it around on the counter, breaking up the membranes inside. If juicing by hand, squeeze the fruit upside down to ensure that you aren't getting any errant seeds in your bowl. If you don't have a manual or electric juicer, try biting down on the fruit (this works best for small citrus like limes) to squeeze out the maximum amount of juice (just make sure you're catching seeds).

3. Marinades
The acid in citrus makes it a great candidate for marinades. You want to make sure, however, that you are not marinating proteins in citrus-based marinades for too long, because the protein will begin to 'cook' in the citrus if left for a long time. Particularly great with fish (I love lemon, garlic and oil), citrus-based marinades are a wonderful flavor boosting time saver!

4. Vinaigrettes
I love making vinaigrettes; they're healthy, light and delicious! They pair well with salads and vegetables and can be used as a quick marinade for proteins too. Just swap out the vinegar for some citrus juice and you will have a sure winner.

5. Choosing your citrus
Lime flavor pairs really well with Mexican and Asian foods. Used quite a bit in Thai dishes, limes add freshness and a sweet-sour flavor that is unparalleled. I loved using lime juice in combination with chipotle in adobo for a delicious chicken marinade. Grapefruit is a fun flavor that is often underestimated; try it in a salad dressing and you will be pleasantly suprised by the flavor profile it imparts. Lemons are great for marinating fish and other proteins. I add lemon juice to my shish-kebab marinade and use it for a glaze used on cornish game hens.

Easy marinade for tilapia:
juice and zest of one lemon
black pepper
1 clove of finely minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
splash of white wine

You can make a lemon compound butter by combining room temperature butter with lemon zest and juice to add to the cooked fish before serving. Incredible!


Jen said...

Don't forget to zest! Haha! Love it:) teets

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