Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tasting Jerusalem #9 – Preserved Lemons

Fricassee Tunisienne
Dee – Preserved Lemons were June 2013’s featured ingredient.  There are recipes in the book to make them from scratch, and also including them as a finished ingredient.
It is a simple process to make them from scratch, but it takes time, and I hadn’t allowed myself enough of it before the time arrived to use them in a recipe.  I have also noticed that the ready-made preserved lemons are significantly smaller than the fresh ones on the supermarket fruit section, so it was the ready-made variety that I used in my chosen recipe.
When checking through the book to find recipes featuring preserved lemons, the one which particularly attracted my attention was the Fricassee Salad on Page 227.  How did a salad with a French style and name find its way into a Jerusalem themed recipe book?  It turns out that the salad is an adaptation of a sandwich known as Fricassee Tunisienne, which originated in Tunisia when it was under French occupation and arrived in Jerusalem via immigrants from North Africa.
The ingredients of the sandwich filling are similar to those of the classic French Salade Nicoise, but with a few non-traditional ingredients added, one being preserved lemon.  Tunisian cuisine is noted for an abundance of hot spiced dishes, as evidenced by the inclusion of Harissa paste.
In the commentary accompanying the recipe, an option is given for the salad to be served as a sandwich filling, and as I always enjoy trying out different types of sandwiches, I decided to give this a go.  I made a couple of changes to the published recipe, mostly to keep the calorie count down.
The Fricassee Tunisienne in its authentic form is made with a fried bun, but I went for a small baked bun instead.  There were also directions for preparing a tuna confit, but I was happy with simple tinned tuna as there were plenty of other strong flavours included, not least of which were the preserved lemons.  Lastly, I replaced the potatoes with a pickled chilli.  Although pickled chilli wasn’t included in the recipe I had a few left and thought it would an extra couple of tastes on top of the many that were included already.
I was very happy with how the buns and the salad filling had turned out, The bun was soft enough to soak up some of the chilli vinegar and oil from the anchovies, while the lettuce added a welcome fresh and slightly crunchy texture.  The salad filling was nicely balanced with each strong flavour holding its own.  Even though only a teaspoon of preserved lemon skin was used, it was strong enough to make its presence felt.
The sandwich was easy to prepare and made a great lunch.  I will certainly be making it again.

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(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)