Preserved lemons are something special. They somehow manage to bring all five flavours to the table. With only two ingredients — lemon and salt — their primary flavours are (obviously) sour and salty, but after hanging out at room temperature for a while, the citrus mellows, developing a gentle sweetness with just a bit of bitterness and a hint of umami.
But lemons shouldn’t have all the fun; you can achieve very similar results with Buddha’s hand citron.
As I mentioned in both of those pieces of citrus content, this fruit is all peel and pith, making it terrible for eating out of hand, but great for flavoring.
After a prolonged stay in salty lemon juice, the pith softens, the bitterness fades, and the citrus becomes an intensely flavored, almost pickled version of itself. Since Buddha’s hand is devoid of any juice of its own, you have to supplement with an outside source. Regular lemon works, or you could use Meyer lemon, lime, or a combination of all three. To make it, you will need:
1 Buddha’s hand citron, washed and cut into coins
Enough kosher salt to completely coat the fruit (1/4 cup should be enough)
Enough lemon juice to submerge the fruit
Place the sliced fruit in a bowl, and toss with salt to coat. Transfer to a sterilized jar, and squeeze in fresh lemon juice until the fruit is completely submerged, tamping everything down as needed. Close the jar, and let it hang out at room temperature for two or three weeks, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. (If it’s cold, this process will take longer.) After a couple of weeks, give one of the little slivers a taste; once they reach salty-sour-funky perfection, they’re done!
Like preserved lemons before them, you can throw these golden coins of flavour into and onto almost anything. They make an excellent garnish for any rice dish, play very well with meat, and the liquid can be used to add acid to cocktails. Put ‘em on a cheese plate if you really want to live. You have a lot of options.