Kaffir lime is a member of the citrus family which is mostly found in Southeast Asia and its neighbors. Both its fruit and leaves are sold dried or frozen in specialty Asian markets if you are located in the west. It’s a bit difficult to acquire especially if your area doesn’t have a lot of Asian grocers.
Kaffir lime leaves have a strong citrusy flavor with a hint of pungency. These leaves also have bitter notes which people find difficult to eat raw. There are many ways to use this, but it is widely used in curries, soups, marinades, and sauces.
Kaffir Lime Substitutes
Although bay leaves have mild to nonexistent citrus notes, the flavors are similar to Kaffir lime leaves -- this plant also has pungency and bitterness akin to Kaffir lime leaves. Fresh bay leaves are the best alternative when seasoning soups, sauces, stews, and rice dishes.
Lime or Lemon Zest
The zest of these citrus fruits come very close to the flavor profile of Kaffir lime leaves. Both lemon and lime zest posses the citrusy, sharp flavors and pungency that’s needed in certain recipes. They are also the easiest alternatives to find and the most popular substitutes for Kaffir lime leaves.
This variant of thyme is used to season fish, meat, soups, and salads. Lemon thyme has an intense lemony scent to it combined with earthy notes without the bitterness -- It makes a great alternative to Kaffir lime leaves.
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