Kaffir Lime

I'm so excited!

At a recently family reunion, I got chatting with a relative of Theresa's from California about Thai Food. I talked about the magic of the Kaffir Lime – to my amazement she proclaimed "Oh – we have a Kaffir Lime bush in our garden." …


I even went so far as trying to grow my own tree, but sadly that wasn't happening in our climate. Kaffir Limes are hard to come by in Washington State. The FDA hasn't approved them for produce sale (According to the grocer at Uwajimaya)  and so at Asian grocery stores – all we can get are the Kaffir Lime Leaves, not the limes themselves.

When making thai curry pastes, the peel of the Kaffir Lime imparts an intense amazing flavor that really sets them apart from other curries.

Today, I received a shipment of their Kaffir Lime harvest! They are perfect, beautiful and smell so wonderful!

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. After maxing-out on my last plate of turkey left-overs, I'm ready to cook some more Thai Food.

I'm going to make a beef Panaeng Curry from scratch (making the paste itself) in the next few days to take advantage of these deliciously fresh limes.

12 thoughts on “Kaffir Lime

  1. Sarah

    For Daniel…HUH??? I worked for a Thai importer for a number of years and that is what they are called in the US when sold. As for words meaning other things….plenty of Thai words are not so nice in the Thai language but are fine in the US, when used in English.

    When we’d get our shipments weekly of lime leaves (for a year or so I did all the packing of them for resale) there would be sometimes hidden in them a lime or two. Yum! They would have been grabbed on accident and packed in. Those would stay with us 😉

    Love the smell of the leaves rolled up like a cigar and shredded. So potent!

  2. brett Post author

    I checked with the person that taught me to cook thai, here’s what her book (“It Rains Fishes”) says :

    “Kaffir lime is known in Thailand as ma-gkrood. I do not know how the English name came about. I have learned that “kaffir” can be a derogatory word, but my intention in using it in this book is not to offend anyone but to refer to it by that name used most commonly in markets and Thai recipes. Sometimes it is identified as bergamot lime, but this designation is rarely used, especially in America.”

  3. TJ

    Could you discribe your experience in trying to grow the plant? I live in washingon and I want to buy a tree year old tree, I mostly just want to havest the leaves for Thai soups! The limes would be a plus. My main question is could the climate here sustain a mature kaffir lime plant, at least in order to harvest the leaves? Thanks!

  4. brett Post author

    TJ – I did try growing one indoors once and it didn’t work out. That said, I don’t have very ‘green’ fingers and so it could well have been neglect on my part.

    Depending on where you are in WA, the leaves are readily available at Asian grocery stores here in Seattle.

  5. dj

    I usually cut the leaves from these limes to my Thai curries, especially panang and prik khing, but have now found the FDA is preventing the sale of the leaves as well. Wtf?

  6. brettm

    dj – no idea. i’ll check next time i’m at the grocery store – i saw them a few weeks ago still.

  7. dj

    I appreciate that. Maybe its just a matter of petitioning. . . I’ve been wondering if I could grow limes where I live, Kaffir or others. Guess there’s one way to find out. . .

  8. brettm

    ha. good luck. if you find a lime tree that loves cold wet rain let me know and i’ll grow one in seattle 🙂

    btw – looks like import foods is not selling them either:

    “Kaffir lime leaves are currently not available as of February 17 2010 due to a USDA quarantine.”

    http://importfood.com/spws0101.html

  9. Liana

    I think is a good idea to petition for the use of kaffir lime leaves. I lived in utah and they are banding it from local asian market but I have my parent ship some for me from san diego.
    Then I found this website in CA thats sales them

    here you go…..
    http://www.purplehillsranch.com/

  10. Tom Wesselman

    Funny – I read this looking out on the deck at my two remaining kaffir lime trees that I keep on the edge of survival in this temperate climate. I bought them during the quarantine but happy that you can now buy them locally and online. They are the magic ingredient in so many recipes.

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