WHAT IS THAI LIME OR KAFFIR LIME?
Thai Lime (Thailand’s Lime) or Kaffir Lime belongs to the genus Orange Lime, a native tree of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. Currently, the tree has been widely grown in the world to make spices, fragrances, and cosmetics. The leaves of this tree, Kaffir Lime leaf is a typical spice in Thai cuisine, making one of the essences of this cuisine, which is the globally famous Tom Yum. The tree is commonly known as “Thai Lime”. In Vietnam, the trees grow wild and are grown in many locations but are common as a special tree of Bay Nui, An Giang province.
Thai Lime – A special spice. (Photo: Internet)
Thai Lime is known by many different names around the world. While its global common name in English is Kaffir Lime, in Thailand, the tree is mainly known as makrùut (มะกรูด, makrut). In the North of Vietnam, the tree is called as “trap” (chap, giay) while in An Giang region in the Southwest, the tree is called as “truc” (chuc) or “truc thom”. Other Southeast Asian and South Asian countries also have many names for the tree: In Myanma, people call it by the name shauk-nu (shauk-waing); in Cambodia, it is krauch soeuch (ក្រូចសើច); in Malaysia, the tree has the name of limau purut; in Laos, it is makgeehoot; in Madagascar, the tree is called combava (combawa, cumbava, cumbaba); in Sri Lanka, the name is kahpiri dehi (odu dehi, kudala dehi); in Indonesia, it is jerul purut (jeruk limo, jeruk sambal); the Philippines call it swangi. In China, the tree is called 箭葉橙jiànyèchéng, which means arrow-shaped Lime leaf, měfēnggān馬蜂柑, meaning Ma Phong orange tree), 泰國青檸 Cantonese, Taai3gwok3 ching1ning4 means Thai Lime or Thai-kok-kam泰國柑 means Thai orange).
However, we do not know if it is because the leaves of this tree are the same as grapefruit leaves with a special shape of the fruit, many people have called this fruit “Grapefruit Lime”. If you don’t believe it, you can go to google and search for the phrase “Thai Grapefruit Lime “. There will be a lot of results showing products made from Kaffir Lime.
Thai Lime or Kaffir Lime is a type of tree with low to medium height, mature trees can be from 2m to 10m high. Just like our local limes, Kaffir Lime stem has horizontal spikes, non-green sprouts, tapered oval leaves or spears, rounded or protruding edges, rounded or concave apex, sometimes pointed, dark green, double lobe, symmetrical growth, very large winged stalks, sometimes as large as a leaf slate (forming a nearly similar leaf shape to number 8, so it is also called “Number 8 Lime leaf”). Generally, the leaves are like grapefruit leaves but smaller and have essential oils and intense aromas. The flowers of Kaffir Lime are small, white, or yellow in bundles or short clusters in the axillae. Thai Kaffir Lime fruit is round, the stems are more protruding, and the bark is clammy and green, when ripe, Kaffir Limes turn yellow, the bark is quite thick, and the flesh is yellow-green, with little water but the water has a very sour and spicy taste. The trees bear fruit all year round.
Thai Lime is known by many different names around the world. (Photo: Internet)
THAI LIME OR KAFFIR LIME SPICES IN THAI CUISINE
Thai Lime or Kaffir Lime is a tree with full-bodied essential oils. Kaffir Lime has a fragrance 05 times stronger than ordinary limes. Kaffir Limes leaves and fruit is the two main spices in many famous Thai dishes.
Thai Lime leaves have a spicy taste like local lime but it is more aromatic and intense, which stimulates the smell and taste of eaters, and helps to eliminate the fishy smell of foods containing high levels of protein such as beef, chicken, eel, or snake, and supports our digestion. Housewives think that Kaffir Lime leaves are a blend of lime leaves, young grapefruit leaves, and fresh curry leaf essential oil. Not bitter and not losing flavor despite a long time cooking, Kaffir Lime leaves are used in many dishes in Thailand, India, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and many other parts of the world.
Kaffir Lime leaf makes one of the essences of Thai cuisine, which is the globally famous Tom Yum. (Photo: Internet)
Thai Lime leaves are typical spices in Thai cuisine, young Thai Lime leaves can be eaten raw as a salad, and aged leaves are used in the green curry dish, Thai soup, Tod Mun (Thai fish rolls), Thai hot pot, Haw Moak steamed fish, Pok Taek, sugar syrup, steamed with rice, made sauce to cook pork, lamb, and chicken. In Vietnamese cuisine in the Bay Nui region, Thai Lime leaves are used for steamed chicken or sliced to put on boiled chicken; steamed seafood (fishes, clams, or oysters); stir-fry (eels, frogs, water snakes); stock (fishes, meats); making salad (mussels, chickens); cooking hot pot dishes or sour soup, etc.
Thai Lime leaves can be used fresh or stored in the refrigerator freezer or dried for long-term storage. Housewives often shred and remove aged leaf tendons and stalk to avoid bitterness, dry leaves should be smashed before use.
Thai Lime has sour juice, slightly bitter, used to eat fresh, squeeze lime juice to make dips, eliminate the fishy smell of seafood or beef, or make jams.
Tri Ton region in An Giang province is famous for the specialty of beef porridge with Kaffir Lime, the food of the ethnic cultural intersection between Khmer and Vietnamese people, besides steamed chicken with Kaffir Lime leaves./.