The other day, I finally decided to buy a lime tree. I honestly cannot understand why it’s taken me so long. I already have trees of lemon, fig and even banana, but not lime. Odd, considering I’m constantly using limes in my personal cooking as well as my cooking classes, but for some reason, it never occurred to me that having my own tree would be terrific. Seems we all have a little shoemaker in us, eh?
There are two types of limes available to most in the 904: Key and Persian. The Famous Florida Key Lime is actually the original variety of lime. These limes were first cultivated in Persia, yet they’re called Key limes, not Persian limes. The limes we now call Persian are of the variety commonly found in most grocery stores. They’re a very bright green, seedless and pleasantly sour. (Fun fact: I consider myself to be pleasantly sour as well.) Persian limes are a hybrid of a lemon and a lime, first grown in Florida after a hurricane wiped out the majority of the Key lime crop in the late 1920s.
Yes, this is confusing. Persian limes did not originate in Persia but are a hybrid, and Key limes aren’t from the Keys but rather Persia. Got it? Good. Let’s move on. The important thing to remember is to use only Key limes when making Key lime pie, otherwise you’re lame, but apart from that, there are no other restrictions as to which type of lime to use in most cuisines.
My No. 1 favorite time to use limes is when cooking Mexican. What’s an avocado without its lime muse? Unfulfilled, I say! That’s only the beginning; it’s hard to contain my excitement when pairing limes with fresh chillies. To continue that train of thought, just add some pristinely fresh fish, lime juice and chillies with some red onion and voila: You’re in Peru! Ceviche, the national dish of Peru, is just exquisite in its simplicity and palate-pleasing succulence. And we can’t forget Southeast Asian coconut curries brought to life with the acidity of lime leaves, juice and zest. Of course, there’s also grilled beef. The combination of a nice piece of juicy, smoky beef straight off the fire with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lime juice is divine. I’m so hungry now, I’ve got to stop writing and knock out a batch of Cheffed-Up sour, spicy aioli, then grab a bag of chips and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
Chef Bill’s Red Pepper, Chipotle & Lime Aioli
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp. dijon
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- 1/2 large roasted red pepper, rough chop
- 1/2 garlic clove, paste
- 1 tbsp. basil, chopped
- 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp. chipotle in adobo, minced
- 7 oz. canola oil
- 1 tsp. honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients except oil in a robot coup and purée.
2. Slowly emulsify in the oil to a mayonnaise consistency; adjust with tepid water as necessary.
3. Adjust seasoning.
Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!