A staple in the cuisines of many southeast Asian countries, Kaffir Lime leaves are a bold emerald-green color. Often called by its more politically correct name, Makrut Lime, this citrus tree sports leaves that are highly aromatic, and which give the distinctive lemon-lime scent and flavor that are a hallmark of popular Thai dishes like Tom Yum and Panang Curry.
The Kaffir Lime is widely used in Thai and Lao cuisines, and also appears frequently in recipes from Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Burma -- and, of course, it is especially popular in dishes from Indonesian regions Bali and Java, where the tree is a native plant.
Like the Bay Leaf, Kaffir lime leaves impart aroma and flavor to food, but are typically not eaten -- it comes out of the dish when the meal is served. When the leaf is eaten, it is sliced into very thin ribbons (a chiffonade, as one does with fresh basil leaves) with a very sharp knife.
Use Kaffir Lime leaves to add an air of citrus to your stir-fry, curry, salad and fish dishes. A few leaves in the cooking liquid will enliven your jasmine rice. Join Kaffir Lime leaf with lemongrass and ginger, to make a southeast Asian "Bouquet Garni" to flavor stocks or marinades, or drop in your hot and sour soup for the last few minutes of cooking for an infusion of bold flavor.