Grilled, seared, or baked in the oven, caramelized lemons are a revelation, says danieljdwyer. “In the parts of the world that have been growing lemons for a millennium or more, raw lemon is basically unthinkable,” says danieljdwyer. “Outside of lemonade, I can’t think of any time a lemon is better raw.” Cut in half and caramelized to perfection, cooked lemons are great squeezed on everything from clam pizza to paella.
Caramelizing the lemon adds a depth of flavor that can’t be approached by raw lemon juice. When you squeeze them, you’re getting “something more than just brightness and acidity,” says danieljdwyer. Squeeze those caramelized lemons gently, though—even though lemons dry out in the cooking process, cooked lemons release their juices much more freely than raw lemons.
“In Valencia, they often stick salted lemon halves flesh side up in the paella pan when it goes into the oven,” says danieljdwyer. “A paella oven in Valencia is about as hot as a good pizza oven in the northeast US (so 800 degrees is the low end of the scale). Words can’t describe how much better this is than the comparably pathetic raw lemon wedges you get around here with paella cooked in a 475-degree oven.”
sodagirl agrees, and adds a tip: “Dip the cut end in simple syrup and put it face down on the grill. It burns,” she says. “You get a whole different flavor from the juice.”
Board Link: What makes a good clam pizza?