Preserved lemon is a kind of pickle and Moroccan chef Hassan M'souli says it adds a "wow" factor to his dishes. Here, he divulges his family recipe, which has been traditionally kept secret, on how to make preserved lemon at home.
- 10 thin-skinned lemons, plus juice of 1 lemon
- 480 g (1½ cups) rock salt
- 1 litre boiling water
- 8 cardamom pods
- 2 small red chillies (optional)
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- olive oil, to cover
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 3 days
Scrub the lemons well and soak in water for about 3 days, changing the water daily (this disperses the gas and acids contained in the fruit). Remove from the water and cut four pockets end to end into each lemon, being careful not to slice right through.
Holding a lemon over a bowl (to catch any juice and salt), fill the pockets generously with rock salt, and arrange in a 2-litre preserving jar (see Note). Repeat with remaining lemons.
Cover the lemons with boiling water. Add the leftover salt and juice, lemon juice and cardamom pods.
Chillies and bay leaves may also be added for flavour and decoration, if you like.
Leave the jar for a few minutes to ensure that most of the air bubbles are released. Pour over a thin layer of olive oil to cover the surface. Seal tightly, and store for at least 1 month prior to use.
Correctly preserved lemons can be stored for years.
• Alternatively, you could put these into 2 x 1 litre jars.