Key limes are similar to Persian limes. They tend to be slightly more acidic, and are more uniformly round. They are a good substitute for lemons in most dishes, and may also substitute for limes in many dishes. However, because of their more acidic qualities, the key lime will provoke subtle changes in dishes calling for regular limes. The taste differences of key limes have also produced many recipes specifically designed to showcase their unique flavor.
Of course the classic recipe using key limes is Key Lime Pie. This is often made with a graham cracker crust and topped with meringue. It has a similar acid to sweetness balance to lemon meringue pie. The filling, however, tends to be creamier and less gelatinous than lemon filling.
Key lime tarts are also an excellent choice. Usually the tarts are made with a more lemon meringue type filling, and key limes may sit in the clear filling to make the tart beautiful. Key lime cheesecake, ice cream and Jell-O can all tantalize the palate as well. Dessert choices are fairly wide open when using key limes, particularly if you like a balance of tart and sweet flavors.
Key lime can be substituted for regular lime in many main courses and appetizers. A dash of key lime juice in salsa or guacamole can give an extra bite to these dips. Key limes work as well as regular limes in making ceviche, light raw fish marinated in lime juice. The flavor of key limes tends to go particularly well with tex-mex cooking and Mexican or South American food. Key limes are particularly good with dishes that call for cilantro.
The juice of key limes can be used to make a variety of marinades and salad dressings. For example a sweet fruit salad with a dash of key lime will not only keep your fruit from turning brown but will accentuate the sweetness of the fruit. Oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and key lime juice also makes for an excellent salad dressing, or as a marinade for chicken or fish. Just remember to lower your vinegar ratio, or your dressing will be too sour.
Key limes are also good in a number of Thai inspired dishes. Juice may be combined with coconut milk and prawns, in curries, or Pad Thai. Soups and stews often benefit from a dash of juice from key limes.
Essentially, when using key limes, you imagination is your limit. Numerous recipes on the Internet can inspire, but don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities of key limes. Also, don’t forget their uses in beverages both non-alcoholic and alcohol-laced. Some claim a key lime margarita to be the best margarita of all. Limeade made with key limes is also a favorite.