Limes have become such a standard part of my regular diet that I forget how “exotic” they are. Here in Mexico, they’re cheap and plentiful and used in every kind of dish imaginable.
I can go to the Sunday tianguis (flea market) and get a kilo bag for 10 pesos, and while they’ll cost a bit more in a regular grocery store, they’re still cheap. For me, they’ve replaced lemons in, well, everything, and when sometimes I buy an actual limon amarillo it kind of tastes strange now.
Just to be clear, I’m talking about the little round bright-green limes found here, which are Persian limes, a cross between a regular lemon and a key lime, which has a thinner, yellower skin. Also called Tahiti limes, they’re actually the most commonly grown lime in the world.
So why do they cost so much in the United States and Canada? Don’t get me started.
How do I use them? Let’s see — squeezed over fish or shrimp or any kind of taco, in guacamole, salsas and marinades, in limeade (the ubiquitous limonada), with mineral water for fizz or plain agua for a less festive drink, in ceviches, in cooked fruit desserts, in cocktails, micheladas and ice-cold cervezas.
The list goes on and on. I always have a bowl of them in my fridge, ready to use with whatever. I’ve even been known to squeeze a little fresh lime juice on cuts or scrapes (ouch!) to speed healing.
One word of caution: Don’t substitute packaged lime juice, no matter how cute that little plastic green container is. It won’t taste or act the same as fresh lime juice.
Honey Garlic Lime Shrimp
Perfect for entertaining or when you want a special dinner – or just because shrimp are so plentiful in Mexico! Do use the best quality honey you can afford to be sure you’re getting the real thing and not some sort of corn-syrup-with-honey-added product.
- 1 cup high-quality honey
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
- ¼ cup lime juice (about 4 small limes)
- 1 lb. peeled shrimp
- ¼ cup butter (I prefer President or Lur-Pak brands)
- 1 head broccoli
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
Whisk together honey, soy sauce, garlic, and lime juice. Place shrimp and ⅓-½ cup of honey mixture in a zip-top bag (enough to coat shrimp well). Remove air from bag, seal and marinate for 30-40 minutes in refrigerator. Cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces and steam until tender but still firm. Set aside.
Melt butter in a skillet, add remaining honey mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until sauce thickens. Discard marinade, add shrimp to pan and cook till shrimp starts to turn pink, about 1½ minutes. Add broccoli and cook a few minutes more till broccoli is hot and shrimp is cooked. Add cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges and serve over rice. Makes 3-4 servings.
Fresh Lime Cake
This light, fluffy cake is delicious plain, but feel free to add a simple vanilla frosting.
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lime zest
- 2 cups flour
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3 eggs
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- ⅔ cup fresh lime juice
- ¾ cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 176°C (350°F). Grease and flour one 9″x13″ pan or two 8″ cake pans.
Combine sugar, lime zest, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing well. Add eggs, vanilla, vegetable oil and lime juice and beat well. Stir in sour cream. Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake for 22-28 minutes, until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Lemonade with a twist – of lime, orange and grapefruit – makes for a super refreshing drink that’s easy to make. I sometimes add minced fresh basil or mint for a different taste.
- 10 limes, juiced
- 2 oranges, juiced
- 1-2 pink grapefruits, juiced
- 7 cups water
- 1/3-½ cup sugar
- Optional: mineral water (agua mineral)
Combine all ingredients in large pitcher and stir well to dissolve sugar. Chill and serve. If using mineral water, decrease regular water by half, fill glass with ice and citrus mixture, and add mineral water to fill.
Janet Blaser of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, has been a writer, editor and storyteller her entire life, and feels fortunate to write about great food, amazing places, fascinating people and unique events. Her work has appeared in numerous travel and expat publications as well as newspapers and magazines. Her first book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats, is available on Amazon. Contact Janet or read her blog at whyweleftamerica.com.