Harvesting the leaves commercially is a laborious and painful process; with protective thorny branches, just itching to tear at hands, it’s little wonder the leaves can at times seem expensive. A small potted tree, moved around to catch the sun is a fabulous thing in warmer climates - the fresher the leaves, the better the flavour.
One leaf, added to a pot of jasmine or basmati rice as it cooks, will leave your kitchen headily and exotically scented. And if that rice is also cooked with a dash of coconut milk and a stalk of lemongrass, smashed with the flat of your knife, all the better.
Gyoza with mushrooms and lime leaves – makes 12
These silky little dumplings are a doddle to make. Soft and pillowy on top; crunchy and golden on the bottom. And scented with that lime? Pretty sexy stuff. I’ve gone for the quick and easy prep – for more a more authentically prepared gyoza, pop over here.
75g of fresh mushrooms (Swiss brown [cremini] or shiitake)
75g of tofu, drained and blotted with kitchen paper
2 Kaffir lime leaves, spines discarded and leaves finely shredded
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 x 2cm (1 inch) of ginger, peeled and grated
2 spring onions, white and tender greens, chopped
1 tablespoon of tamari
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
12 wonton or gow gee wrappers (freeze the remainder)
1-2 tablespoons light olive oil
½ cup of water
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of tamari
1 tablespoon of water
2 teaspoons of fish sauce (nam pla - optional)
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted
De-stalk the mushrooms and roughly chop the caps, then place everything in a food processor and whiz to a smooth paste.
Hold a wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand. Place a generous teaspoon of the stuffing in the centre. Dip your index finger into the water, lightly dampen the edges and bring them together. Pinch the edges tightly to form a half-moon shape. Continue with the remaining wrappers.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. When hot, add your gyozas in one layer. Fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until golden underneath. Stand back and add the water (it will bubble and spit). Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and leave to steam for 3 minutes. If there’s any water left at the end, take off the lid and let it evaporate. They will be soft and translucent when ready.
To make the dipping sauce, mix everything together in a small serving bowl.
Serve hot, dipping as you go.