Thursday, September 3, 2009

Panamanian "Rojo" Lemons a.k.a Seville or Bitter Oranges

One of the first things that you figure out when vegetable and fruit shopping in Panama is that the lemons are orange and the oranges are yellow. After getting past the color issue and doing some experimenting, I have to say that in most ways I prefer the Panamanian Lemons or sometimes called Rojos or Limon Chino. Technically, they are Seville Oranges or sometimes called Bitter Oranges.

They are amazingly juicy, very easy to squeeze and have a nice strong lemon flavor. They do not seem to have as much acid as Persian (Yellow) Lemons. I have to admit, I am a bit of a hog with them. I simply can not wait until they are in full season. They are vital in my everyday cooking as well as in homemade sauces, especially for Orange Marmalade, which is made from this type of Orange, not ordinary eating Oranges.

We also use them for drinks.
- These make a brightly colored Lemonade, as well as great Mojitos and Margaritas (see recipe below). As a morning tonic, "they" ( I can't remember who, but someone, somewhere) say that Lemon juice helps detox one's Liver, I squeeze one half into a glass of water and drink it down before the morning cuppa Joe.

My favorite use is as salad dressing. I sometimes spend the time to make Caesar Salad Dressing, I do love it, but when I have Panamanian "Rojo" Lemons, I often make this super quick and simple dressing:

The Most Simple and Versatile Salad Dressing and/or Marinade Ever!

Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Good and Tasty Olive Oil (or an Infused Oil for an extra kick)
1-2 Panama Lemons Sliced in half

On a big plate arrange whatever you like best for salad fixings, sprinkle on a bit of Kosher Salt, add a couple of grinds of fresh Black Pepper, drizzle on the Olive Oil and then squeeze each half of Lemon into your other hand to catch the seeds, of course working over your salad. Enjoy.

This also works great over chicken, fish or vegetables as a marinade before grilling. It is great on pasta with Arugula and a can of Tuna! Revisit the Angel Hair Chicken Pasta Salad recipe, it uses the same concept with an herbal kick.

Fresh Lemonade and Margarita Mix

Panama Lemons
Simple Syrup, Chilled

Squeeze up a bunch of lemons into a pitcher and add as much simple syrup to your liking. Pour it over ice and maybe add a sprig of fresh mint.

Simply add some fresh Orange Juice to the above mix and you have Margarita Mix. Here is the basic Margarita Recipe, just in case you need it. 40% Good Quality Tequila and 60% Margarita Mix. Pour into a iced glass with salt on the rim!

Simple Syrup

1 cup of fresh water
1 cup of sugar

Mix together and heat up until the sugar crystals are dissolved. You can either heat it up gently on the stove with a medium to low heat or place the mixture in a microwave proof dish and zap it on high power for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Stir till sugar is dissolved and cool in the fridge.

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