Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Squeeze My Lemon

A few days ago, I was given a lovely gift. A big jar of preserved lemons.

I know Moroccan preserved lemons, but had never met Chinese ones. In fact, in most parts of China it isn't that easy to find lemons, at all.

These are apparently a speciality of the southern Zhuang minority near Nanning. The Zhuang people are the largest ethnic minority in China and most live in Guangxi. These preserved lemons feature in their diet and are usually eaten with congee (rice porridge). They feature in duck and fish recipes. They can also be served as a relish. They are related to the Vietnamese Chanh muối.

I'm told that these particular lemons have been soaking in salt and lemon juice for eleven years!

Preserved Lemon

So, of course, you want to know what they taste like. Incredibly lemony. Concentrated lemonness. Sour, but not unpleasantly so. Also a sort of smoky flavour. They will go great with fish.

Zhuang Preserved Lemon

UPDATE: The following was provided by my dear friend who is herself Zhuang.

How to Make Zhuang Preserved Lemons?
By Jo Ma

Zhuang preserved lemons is a kind of common food for the southern Zhuang ethnic minority who live around Nanning Prefecture of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China. The Zhuang people like to make it as a relish for eating with congee or congee with corn powder. This relish is a mixture of chopped preserved lemons, red chilli and garlic or ginger slice in soy sauce and peanut oil or sesame oil.

Preserved Lemon Relish

Sometimes the Zhuang people use preserved lemons as an ingredient in cooking. The most famous Zhuang food in Guangxi is Lemon Duck, which is a common home cooked dish in Wuming County, which belongs to Nanning Prefecture.

The following steps show you how to make Zhuang preserved lemons.

Step 1 Shopping
Buy some green lemons.

Step 2 Cleaning
Wash green lemons.

Step 3 Sunning
Leave green lemons under the sunshine till it gets dry.

Step 4 Salting
If you salt 5kg green lemons, mix 0.25kg salt with green lemons. Keep the salted green lemons in a transparent jar. The jar must be well sealed. Leave the jar under the sunshine till the salted green lemons turn yellow. For example, leave it on the balcony. Maybe it will take months to wait for those salted green lemons to turn yellow. Later, get the jar of salted yellow lemons back. Unseal the jar. Then cover 1kg salt over the salted yellow lemons. Seal well the jar again.

Step 5 Preserving
Keep the sealed jar of salted yellow lemons at least 3 years. And the colour of salted yellow lemons will turn brown day by day. It can be dark brown later. The longer you keep preserved lemons, the better taste it is. If you eat it earlier than 2 years, it will taste bitter. After 3 years, it can be unsealed. Please use clean chopsticks to pick it. Don’t use oily chopsticks, or the oil will make preserved lemons go bad. Remember to seal the jar well after picking preserved lemons every time.

. This entry was posted on Sunday, August 3rd, 2008 at 1:58 pm and is filed under Food and Drink. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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