Pity the poor lime. Its more glamorous cousin, the lemon, gets all the love.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The lime, too, can take its rightful place among the citrus fruits.
Lemons may taste cleaner and crisper and brighter, but the lime’s flavor is more complex. Lime is the flavor of the tropics, a hint of acid to complement the sweetness of a fruit relish on top of fish or a saucy splash of flavor to give a bit of bite to guacamole. It has a special place in Americana as the primary ingredient of a great American limeade. It has few equals as an ingredient in a marinade, though it is often overlooked, and it can add an unsuspected punch to grilled fish and meats.
Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect beef to be one of those meats that goes well with lime, aside from certain foods of Southeast Asia. But I made a dish that shows just how well the tangy bite of lime can help cut through the robust richness of beef.
Mustard lime steaks are little more than their name: Steaks covered with a heavy dusting of dry mustard that is then moistened with Worcestershire sauce and lime juice. This somewhat messy concoction marinates for a few minutes while you prepare the grill, and then you grill them as you would any other steak.
I couldn’t think about limes for long before I started thinking about guacamole. Limes play a vital role in the irresistibly creamy dip, acting as a necessary counterpoint to the rich avocado. The taste of lime should be barely noticeable in guacamole, but it is the one ingredient that ties all of the others together.
And what should you drink to wash down all this lime goodness? Obviously, limeade.
Nothing can cool you off and refresh you as quickly, as effectively, and as assuredly as a tall glass of limeade.
Limeade is not a lime version of lemonade; it is something far more sublime. For one, it is carbonated, and it benefits immeasurably from the effervescence. It is not as thick as lemonade and not as strong and not as sweet. With limeade, the lime and sugar flavor the water; with lemonade, the water acts to thin out the sharp lemon taste.
I made mine two ways, the traditional way and with limes that I had first grilled. The grilled limes made a drink that was subtler and more complex. That said, the traditional, ungrilled limes made a drink that, while a bit harsher on the palate, was also more refreshing.
If you want to add a shot of vodka, so much the better.
Mustard Lime Steaks
- 4 sirloin steaks, cut 1-inch thick (I used New York strip)
- 1/4 cup dry mustard, such as Colman’s, divided
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, divided
- 1 large, juicy lime, divided
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and white pepper
Place steaks on a platter and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the dry mustard over them. Pat the steaks with the flat part of a fork to spread the mustard evenly. Sprinkle the steaks with 2 tablespoons of the Worcestershire sauce, then squeeze half the lime juice over them. Pat the steaks with the fork. Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper. Turn the steaks over and spread them with the remaining 2 tablespoons each of mustard and Worcestershire sauce and the remaining lime juice. Season the steaks with salt and pepper, patting them with the fork. Let the steaks marinate for 15-20 minutes while you preheat the grill.
Set the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the steaks on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until cooked to taste, 4-6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Do not rotate the steaks on the grill to get cross hash marks; if you do, you’ll knock off the mustard mixture. Transfer the steaks to a platter and let rest for 3 minutes. Thinly slice the steaks on the diagonal, as you would London broil. Let the slices marinate in the meat juices for a minute or two, then serve.
Yield: 4 servings
— “The Barbecue! Bible” by Steven Raichlen
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 medium tomato, diced small
- 2 tablespoons red onion, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
- Pinch garlic powder
- Jalapeno, minced, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
Remove the seeds and peels from the avocados, and coarsely chop. Place in a medium bowl and mash with a fork, leaving some small chunks of avocado. Add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
Yield: About 2 cups
— Daniel Neman
- 4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 5 tablespoons simple syrup (see cook’s note)
- Soda water
Cook’s note: Make simple syrup by mixing together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool and store in refrigerator. Use as needed.
Mix together lime juice and simple syrup in a tall glass. Add the lime peels if you have them (this is not necessary, it is just for visual effect). Fill glass with ice and soda water. Stir and serve.
Yield: 1 serving
— Daniel Neman